Brian's Column: Hold my hand - a road safety method in Africa

Brian's Column: Hold my hand - a road safety method in Africa

Brian is back with a new column on all things road safety in Africa. Today he talks about the focus of the recent African Road Safety Conference, the promotion of 'hand holding' for the safety of pedestrians. The 'walking bus' is a concept being adopted around the world with school children to promote walking, safety and community. Read about it here!

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Hello superstars, did you miss me? September is already here and it’s time to adjust into a new gear, fresh and reloaded! What new ideas and creativity have you decided to get married to in order for you, your family, and friends to stay safe? Did you know that Apple is launching another smart phone this time I-phone 5s? I am very afraid friends. It seems to me good things just started to pop in. But wait, we can only enjoy all these, if only we stay alive!

If you haven’t been following, youths in South Africa under the Bakwena Safe Roads 4 Youth project in Nelspruit, they are making inroads through Soul sessions around the local taverns. The objective is to encourage people about responsible drinking.

bakwena brian
Bakwena Safe Roads 4 Youth project Trainers of Trainers Workshop in South Africa

Bakwena and Drive Alive initiated a project where Grade 10 Learners from Dinokana, Lehurutse, Zeerust, Bapong and Majakaneng attend a 3-day drama workshop. They use their skills, and information gathered from the Alcohol and Road Safety Manual developed by SADD (South Africans Against Drunk Driving) to write and perform a drama. You can imagine, Elna Van Niekerk ,Caro Smit and Njabulo Mnguni have been, and still are busy! Much love for the guidance to those youngsters.

In case you dint know, The Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) in collaboration with the Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Policy Programme (SSATP) organized a seminar to address the road safety management in African cities. The seminar “Moving People Safely in Cities” took place from 4th to 5th September, 2013, at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Where else would it have been! Did I tell you, I have some origins there? LOL

spotlight on grsp south africa
Read a YOURS Spotlight on GRSP South Africa

Top on the agenda was how young people as drivers, and pedestrians could contribute to observing safety in towns: Upon which I introduce to you: Hand Holding!

Ok, calm down every body, when I talk about ‘Hand Holding’, young people’s minds will hover to holding hands with someone who you love, or let’s say, someone you have a thing for? Correct me if you are wrong. But have you correctly observed that, if you have been driving before, that its easier for you as a driver to control your speed when you see a group of pedestrians intending to cross the road? That’s correct: its backed by evidence too. Holding hands will ensure that there is a coordinated movement of the pedestrians who are crossing the road. This is actually what gave birth to the famous ‘Zebra Crossing’. The Zebras never move backwards for when it is set to move forward, that is what it will do.

Hand Holding has been modified in different places all over the continent into a Walking School Bus: which is a school bus powered not by an engine but by legs. Children don’t sit inside this ‘bus’ – they walk in a group to school, with an adult ‘driver’ in the front and an adult ‘conductor’ at the rear. The walkers are the bus.

walking bus
The Walking Bus in South Africa which has also been promoted in Europe.

Considering that September presents a break from school for many schools in the continent, we as young people find that we have some free time, and that’s when we need to go and catch a movie, catch up with friends from the other boarding schools or even taking a walk! There is a higher chance that you will cross a road more times than normal. If you are going to cross with a friend, you will need to hold their hands, well, who wouldn’t want to?

In the ‘Impact of hand holding on the road safety behavior of children’ Amber Keefe found a very strong relationship between hand holding and road safety behavior as it

  • Strengthened the Connection between the child and their parents who held their hands while preparing to cross the road.
  • Calmed a Child’s Stress: (Your own or a friends stress in this case)
  • Showed One ‘Understood’: How about this one? There are many of us who really would want to experience this! (winks)
  • Kept a Child Safe: Because there is always a chance that you will be absent minded while on the road, possibly checking your status on Facebook or tweeting me about a certain road safety event! Haha (Don’t tweet and walk or drive!)

So, there we go, who doesn’t want to ‘Hold My Hand?’ It could be your and my savior! You wanna play that Akon fet Michael Jacksons ‘Hold My Hand’ or what? Watch out when you intend to cross the road!

Ps. September 14th is World First Aid Day, and the theme is ‘First Aid & Road Safety’, What will you be doing? Until next time, #STAYSAFE


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