Island programme teaches road safety from young age

A road safety programme has been educating schoolchildren in Madeira for the past 15 years.

The education department on the Portuguese island has been running the Regional Road Safety Education Plan (Plano Regional de Educação Rodoviária – PRER) since 2007 to help youngsters, as well as their families, learn about the dangers on roads. This initiative was also shortlisted for our 2021 Excellence in Road Safety Awards, find out more here.

In promoting a road culture safety, the Regional Directorate of Education has created a range of activities aimed at different age groups from primary school pupils to secondary school students, at private and public establishments. This initiative was also shortlisted for our 2021 Excellence in Road Safety Awards, find out more here.

Since its creation, the PRER goals have been to reduce road accidents, their consequences and costs, emphasising that road safety is a priority for everyone. During the 2020/21 school year, which was affected by Covid-19, around 15,000 youngsters were involved, around a third of the student population.

The activities also extend to teachers, school staff, families and the community on the island.

Over the years, there have been different organisations supporting the plan with the Madeira Police being a constant partner, helping to monitor, train and raise awareness. Other road safety groups have been involved at different stages in the plan’s history.
The programme has also received support from generous sponsors who have provided training activities, transportation and prizes for the students.

PRER involves children in activities from a young age, hoping that by educating them, the messaging will have a catalytic effect on their families.

These activities allow children and students to identify, learn about and adopt behaviours that are relevant as pedestrians and passengers in vehicles. As the children become older, the activities start to focus on safety as a driver, encouraging them to study road conditions and dangers and adopting appropriate habits. 

PRER teaches the children lessons they can use in all aspects of their lives, analysing situations, identifying problems, developing strategies and taking appropriate decisions.

The activities change each year, depending on their success or otherwise. Included in the last school year were:

  • Promoting the use of active modes of transport, especially walking and cycling, to help fight physical inactivity and protect the environment.
  • In-service teacher training sessions.
  • Presentation and reading of a road safety story in schools.
  • Walk or transport tour in the area surrounding schools, to assess the knowledge of children and students regarding traffic signs and rules.
  • Survey on the habits of parents and guardians regarding road safety.
  • Construction of the Road Safety School Cup using recycled materials.
  • Worksheets with games related to road safety.
  • Cycling proficiency tests.

The programme has been shown to successfully reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries over its 15 years.