3M India lays foundation for School Safety Zones in India

Bangalore: Globally schools fall under the vulnerable road user zone and according to statistics[1], road traffic injuries (RTIs) account for 37-38% of deaths among 0 to 14-year-old and 62-64% among 14-18-year-old children. While road safety programs exist in many forms and kinds across India, there is a need for a structured and consistent approach. Addressing this grave concern, 3M India under their community initiative ‘3M Young Change Agents for Road Safety’ (YCARS) has partnered with Concern for Road and Pedestrian Safety (CoRPS) and United Way of Bengaluru to develop a robust program and launched the first School Safety Zone at St. Joseph’s School (CBSE), Bengaluru as part of this.

The program by 3M was co-created with CoRPS and United Way focused on creating young change agents by inculcating a sense of responsibility towards roads and empowering them to act as ambassadors of road safety. In its first year working this program, 3M is aiming towards covering 15 -20 schools across five cities – Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune. In the subsequent years, the company aims to reach out to over 50- 100 schools in over 30 cities. 3M has created #ScienceOfSafety for this campaign to encourage people to spread the message of school safety and can also reach out to the company to enroll their schools.

Talking about the initiative Pawan Kumar Singh, Head, Transportation Safety Business, 3M India, said, “In India, we are losing 150,000 people every year and the economic loss from these accidents is close to 3% of India’s GDP. The alarming statistics only emphasizes the need to educate and drive behavioral change on the road. In western countries, school zone safety is a structured program with designated zones for schools with identified signage systems, which currently do not exist in India. With YCARS, our endeavor is to educate and encourage to create safe school zones which is recognizable and respected by all and create awareness among the children who will grow up to be future road users.”

“A School Safety Zone program that covers all schools requires participation from key stakeholders including the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and local authorities to draft a uniform program and participation from other corporates to ensure sustainability and success of it,” he added.

The 3M YCARS includes four hours of interactive theoretical engagement with students between the age group of 10-15 years over a period of three days. The program structure broadly entails- understanding the road and road-users and important road safety signages; observing road and road-risks; experiencing road hazards, through a simulated module and making a sketch/ wish list of Safe Zone around their schools. On completion, students are certified as 3M Young Change Agents for Road Safety, taking a pledge by committing to spread the learnings to their families and friends.

“India has so far focused only on raising awareness, which is not enough to reduce instances on the road. Children are the future road users but can also be agents of change today. Y-CARS – Young Change Agents for Road Safety – program helps children of 8-14years build the right skills not only to save themselves in future but to influence decisions of their parents today and more when they grow up. We could not get a better organization than 3M to co-create this program with us, since they are global leaders in innovations for everyday life and safety.” said, Sunish Jauhari, Founder, Concern for Road and Pedestrian Safety (CoRPs).

The interactive program seeks suggestions from the students on how to improve some of the hazardous road conditions they observe around the school. These recommendations are translated into a technical layout by 3M Traffic Engineers and include an array of 3M’s road safety elements such as diamond grade fluorescent reflective signages, raised pavement markers or road studs, flexible median markers and reflective bollards for pavements. The students’ vision of their safe school is brought to life through on ground installation of the 3M Road safety solutions.

3M being the overall sponsor of the program, is responsible for working with local authorities to put up the road safety installations which are an outcome of the recommendations of the school workshops. CoRPS being the knowledge partner has developed the content, curriculum and delivery of the workshops in the schools. As the implementation partner, United Way is responsible for conducting workshops in schools, permissions and training & facilitation of workshops in cities.