The World Health Organization reports that annually 1.35 million people die in road-related deaths. They also estimate that another 20 to 50 million are seriously injured in traffic accidents. The most concerning statistic is that kids are the most affected by these types of accidents and that these traffic accidents are the number one cause of death of people between the ages of 5 and 29 years old globally. In many cases, these accidents happen when kids are on their way to school.
Efforts have been made in the past across the world to warn people that children may be crossing including signs, speed bumps, and crossing guards and while these efforts have reduced the number of car crash-related deaths among children, they have not been enough. All of the preventative measures have failed to do one thing; educate children about the risks and equip them with the tools to protect themselves.
15 years ago the city of Kerpen, Germany went above and beyond by not only installing these safety measures but also by educating children about the dangers that exist on the road. They believe that educating children is such a vital part in preventing these fatalities that they decided to get the children directly involved in their safety efforts.
In an interview with Forbes, Guido Ensemeier, a department manager for traffic and urban development for the town of Kerpen said, “We scanned the environment, we scanned the infrastructure, we reached out to the public through news outlets. We asked in the public schools, we asked parents, and we asked school children where they found it dangerous.”
This interactive activity wasn't limited to just a conversation though. The city of Kerpen wanted to see first hand what the problem areas were so they took elementary school children on a bus tour and asked them to point them out. By going directly to the source, the children that were potentially going to be accident victims, the city was able to find out where the children found it hardest to cross the street, where they thought that cars moved too fast and the areas that the kids believed to be the most dangerous.
The children were also involved in the creation process. In 2012, they designed and made brightly-colored signs that were very kid-friendly, zebra crossings and a roundabout. By involving the children and letting the Kerpen elementary students come up with the solutions, Kerpen is now able to boast that they've not had a single road death since the designs were created.