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Enlargement, 3 years after

European Commission - Enlargement - Enlargement, 3 years after - Improving road safety for children

Improving road safety for children: the Czech Republic and Latvia at the top of the class!

The European Road Safety Charter is an initiative of the European Commission, inviting institutions, associations and companies to take concrete actions, assess results and further heighten awareness about the need to reduce road-accident fatalities. The initiative intends to offer participants the opportunity to share ideas and practices across Europe, so that all stakeholders can learn from each other and gain inspiration as to how road safety can be improved.

The European Road Safety Charter offers European recognition to the associations that have signed up, and gives visibility at European level to the road-safety actions they carry out.

The Excellence in Road Safety Awards , last held the 29th of November in Brussels, was both a celebration and an acknowledgement of the innovative and effective initiatives being carried out in Europe to help save lives on our roads.

The awards were given in six categories: "Large companies/multinationals", "Small/medium-sized companies", "Federations", "Institutions", "NGOs and similar organizations", and "Regions and cities". In two of these categories, entities from new Member States took the prize: Latvia's "Statoil Latvija", in the category of large companies/multinationals, and "Policie Ceské republiky" in that of institutions.

"Statoil Latvija" operates in the fields of fuel and oil products, and also owns a network of filling stations. Statoil's winning project consists of several actions, like distributing free reflectors in schools, explaining their use to ensure that children are visible on dark roads. Statoil has also adapted a CD-based game entitled, "Through the Town", which enables children to master traffic-safety regulations. Statoil donates the CD to schools and children, and also offers it on sale in filling stations all over Latvia.

A woman in a yellow car

Further to these activities, Statoil has committed to run, in cooperation with the Road Traffic Safety Direction (CSDD) and the Latvian Auto Motor Society (LAMB), the project, "See. Be seen". Each year from 2005 to 2008, the Statoil service stations will offer, free of charge, expert verification of car lights and signal lamps for its clients. Statoil service stations also participate in educational projects, for example a campaign to promote the use of safety belts, an awareness-raising campaign, "Save your friend. Don't allow drunk driving", or offering first-aid training to drivers, in cooperation with the Latvian Red Cross.

In the category "Institutions", the winner was Policie Ceské republiky (slu┼żba dopravní policie), the local traffic police in the town of Ústí nad Labem, in the North Bohemia region of the Czech Republic. The team consists of 35 agents who are in charge of supervising 62,900 vehicles in an area with a population of 118,000 inhabitants.

Their project is aimed at schoolchildren and students, although its positive effects reach further, since children who know traffic rules can influence the behaviour of their parents. The police give lectures on road safety in the second-, third- and sixth-grade classes of the 25 primary schools in Ústí nad Labem. They also organize a “Day with the Traffic Police”, during which they test the children on the knowledge acquired. The pupils can obtain a mock driver's licence for bicycles and scooters.

In order to cut down the number of accidents caused by beginner drivers, they also organize lectures in nineteen driving schools, addressing 120 learner drivers for six hours a month. The lectures deal with the "black spots" on the roads in the old quarter of Ústí nad Labem, and the causes and consequences of accidents at these spots. The police also discuss illegal behaviour and inform young drivers about sanctions. In parallel, every month they assess the causes of accidents in town, and publish them in the local and national media.

These two award-winning projects are examples of how, with support from the EU, organizations in the new Member States are taking the lead in making our streets safer, especially for children.

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Last update: 27/10/2011