Supporting road safety throughout the education journey

Issue: Volume 101, Number 11

Posted: 31 August 2022
Reference #: 1HAVrp

Road safety is an issue that impacts on all New Zealanders, from the adult driver to young pedestrians. Three organisations dedicated to improving road safety to benefit young people are Students Against Dangerous Driving (SADD), MyMahi DRIVE programme, and Brake.

Road Safety Week is one of the activities Brake organises to bring awareness of road safety to tamariki and whānau.

Road Safety Week is one of the activities Brake organises to bring awareness of road safety to tamariki and whānau.

SADD Aotearoa launched in 1986 in response to students’ concern about drink driving, and the student-led programme has been progressing its work to improve road safety ever since. In 2014, the group broadened its focus to incorporate other areas of road safety and took on its current name, Students Against Dangerous Driving. In 2022 they adopted an additional name – Kaitiaki o Ara (Guardians/caretakers of roads/pathways/journeys).

General manager Donna Govorko says students realised there were more road safety issues happening in the community beyond alcohol, such as speeding, distractions, not wearing restraints, taking risks, and not driving to licensing conditions.

“So, the focus expanded to dangerous driving, and they adopted six principles based on what they thought were the contemporary issues of the time that young people were facing.”

The six principles adopted were Sober Driving, Safe Speeds, No Distractions, Avoiding Risks, Driving to the Conditions and Building Experience.

Since then, these principles have been revisited to include all issues facing young road users, such as walking, cycling, scooters, rail safety and more. The type of activity that is targeted by students depends on their local community.

“Our programme is student led. So, if the students see something as an issue in their community, they can create an activity or an education session to focus on helping to eliminate or reduce the issue,” explains Donna.


The team at SADD see themselves as being the framework or scaffold that helps to support young people, including by educating them as to what types of actions they can take.

Students learn how speed cameras keep roads safe.

Students learn how speed cameras keep roads safe.

Programme delivery leads from SADD guide young people through a problem-solving process, and the students then design activities and solutions that are going to resonate with their peers.

Donna says having a peer-to-peer message is a powerful tool.

“When it’s told by a young person they resonate better, and they listen more. So, it is about them [the students] leading and empowering their peers to go on and try and think about adopting safer road user behaviours.”

Activities that the students undertake are not just peer education, it can also involve petitioning relevant bodies to create a safer environment. Donna recounts how one student made submissions to his local council.

“He scanned the environment for issues within the roading structure, then wrote a submission and a paper for the council.”

Donna says the student used the submission as part of a Geography component at school, so not only did he raise awareness of the issue, he also gained NCEA credits.

“He was combining his passion for road safety and wanting to help the community with his schooling and education goals as well.”

Although SADD is student led, students still need some support. When the programme is going to be introduced in a school, SADD will ask for a member of the school to act as a contact person. This might be a teacher, guidance councillor or a careers coach.

“The message we really want to get across to teachers is that it’s a student-led programme. Teachers only need to be there to help with some guidance every now and again. For example, they can help with organising assemblies or rooms if needed, or to just be there and maybe bounce ideas off. If the teacher or teachers are being involved too much, it’s not actually working,” explains Donna.

Driver education

Student self-sufficiency and reducing teacher stress is also behind MyMahi. The Kiwi-owned learning and pathways hub was released at the end of 2018, with its first year in schools during 2019.

The MyMahi site is a one-stop shop for learners.

The MyMahi site is a one-stop shop for learners.

The MyMahi teacher dashboard allows kaiako to access materials appropriate for their learners.

The learner dashboard operates as a ‘one-stop shop’ where ākonga can access their grades and timetable, set-up a CV and look for part-time jobs. 

It was recognised that driving is an essential part of joining the workforce, so MyMahi partnered with government website Drive to create a service for young people wanting to get their driver’s licence.

“People always say get a good education so you can get a good job. We feel part of the education should be around driving, licensing and road safety,” says MyMahi co-founder Jeff King.

Jeff King is proud to be part of helping learners obtain their driving licences.

Jeff King is proud to be part of helping learners obtain their driving licences.

The service takes away some of the pressure on teachers to provide driver education by providing interactive games, and step-by-step information to help young people get their licence. There are resources for parents, whānau, and people who are teaching someone to drive.

The dashboard is available to anyone wanting to create a profile and there is no cost involved. Since the profiles belong to the learners, they retain all the information even if they change schools or leave school.

‘Braking’ road incidents

Brake is a national road safety charity that started its New Zealand branch in 2011.

Caroline Perry, Brake’s NZ director, says, “The goals of Brake are to prevent road deaths and injuries, make communities safer and to support people who’ve been bereaved and injured.”

The support work is predominantly providing practical information and emotional support resources to people who’ve been affected by crashes. They have resources for adults and for children and they’re all available free of charge to people who’ve been affected, either directly through Brake or other organisations such as Victim Support and grief centres who are working with families who have been affected by crashes as well. Schools can also order the resources if they have students or staff members who’ve been affected.

In terms of the prevention work, they support a vision zero ethos which means that no death on our road is acceptable and that death and injuries on roads are preventable. They run several initiatives throughout the year to promote road safety.

One of these is organising Road Safety Week in May each year, which is a national campaign that encourages anyone and everyone to get involved in raising awareness of road safety.

Currently there are around 1,000 organisations that take part each year. Participation may be joining in on the national theme or focusing on aspects of road safety relevant to the community.

Teaching the basics early

Brake also have Beep Beep! Days for early learning centres which are fun activity days for two to seven-year-olds that help teach them the road safety basics.

“It is things like holding hands, why it’s important to sit in a child seat when you’re in a vehicle and putting a helmet on if you’re on a bike or a scooter,” says Caroline.

“It’s quite simple and basic road safety messages that can help to keep younger children safe while using roads; it also engages parents and local communities in helping to keep children safe too.”

They coordinate two national days a year, but early learning centres and primary schools can run activities on any day of the year that they choose. They can also get free resources and activity ideas to help people take part and to raise awareness of road safety within their communities at any time.

There are several ways in which road safety can be built into the curriculum. Caroline gives the example, as part of a maths lesson, of looking at how different students travel to school and then working out what percentage of a class are walking or cycling to school or getting in the car.

There is a teacher’s area and toolkit on the Brake website with advice around road safety and lesson ideas as well.

“It gives some information on ways to incorporate road safety into your existing lessons. It also provides ideas for additional activities that you can do as well as policies for a school,” explains Caroline.

Beep Beep! Days teach young children about road safety.

Beep Beep! Days teach young children about road safety.

Further information  

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:18 am, 31 August 2022

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