ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

The Impact of the Safe Routes to Schools Program on Road Safety Knowledge and Behaviour in Victorian Primary Schools

Cairney, Peter

School Safety


Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a community-based multi-action program to reduce the incidence and severity of road crashes involving primary and secondary school aged children. This study was part of an overall evaluation of the SRTS program in Victoria, which also included an investigation of the changes in the crash pattern in the vicinity of SRTS Schools. The behavioural study involved a quasi-experimental comparison between SRTS schools and Comparison Schools. Five SRTS schools and five Comparison Schools were selected from the VicRoads metropolitan regions, matched on school size, type of road frontage and location in the same area. The study consisted of behavioural observations, interviews with principals, a road safety quiz for students, and a parental questionnaire. Interpretation of differences in crossing behaviour at SRTS Schools and Comparison Schools is complicated by the extent to which adults are present and available to act as models for appropriate behaviour, or to directly enforce it. Differences between morning and afternoon travel patterns also greatly influence the results in relation to parking behaviour. Despite these unanticipated differences between the two sets of schools, it was concluded that the effectiveness of SRTS programs evaluated in the project depends on a combination of changes to the physical infrastructure and mobilising parents to address road safety issues as they affect their children. Road safety education has not appeared as a distinguishing characteristic because there was a high level of road safety education in the Comparison Schools. Recommendations arising from the behavioural study include continuing provision of physical infrastructure as a key element of the program, reinforcing the role of parents/carers, improving the way the "STOP, LOOK, LISTEN, THINK" message is taught, and ensuring that any future behavioural studies were before-after studies comparing changes in behaviour at the same sites.