Tracker gets kids to school safely

2015-08-04 06:00
Discovery Insure and Child Safe recently rewarded Linda Mpani, the best driver in a pilot school transport project, for prioritising childrenand#039;s safety when driving them to and from school.

tiyese jeranji

Discovery Insure and Child Safe recently rewarded Linda Mpani, the best driver in a pilot school transport project, for prioritising childrenand#039;s safety when driving them to and from school. PHOTO: tiyese jeranji

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School transport has always been in the spotlight as the safety of children is in question.

To make sure that children go to and from school in safe transport Child Safe, Discovery Insure and a few other stakeholders launched a pilot project to improve school transport in the province last year.

The project started with 78 drivers – they tested their eyes, bought new tyres for the school buses, fitted safety belts in some vehicles and even gave them jacks to keep in the car. Those with eye problems were helped to get glasses.

A year later, though it’s still a work in progress, they are happy that they have changed the way drivers operate.

IncentivesDiscovery Insure used its incentive programme in the pilot to encourage the drivers to drive children safely. The programme uses a tracking device to monitor driving behaviour. It provides feedback and enables Discovery to reward drivers for improvement.

A study recently found that drivers on the programme improved their driving behaviour significantly, compared to the general driving population of Cape Town.

The best drivers of the pilot project were rewarded on Thursday last week.

Anton Ossip, Discovery Insure CEO, says they are working towards a day where no child would have to die on the roads.

“We are glad that today we can solve problems through technology and create a nation of great drivers. Globally, road crashes are a major epidemic and South Africa is worse off than many countries. Things have changed a lot because they know they are being monitored and if they do well they will get rewarded for it. We are encouraging responsible driving all the time and I’m glad the results show that there is improvement,” he says.

Driver educationRuth Lewin, head of corporate sustainability at Discovery, says: “With this project, we aim to make South Africa’s roads safer for children when travelling to school every day by improving and increasing road safety knowledge through driver education, and both improvement and provision of safety tools and features.”

Sebastian van As, head of the trauma unit at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, says children are vulnerable and the statistics show that the country is not keeping them safe enough.

“We don’t have to wait for a child to be injured and then sent to a trauma room for us to start doing something about their safety on the roads. We go to communities and educate them on road safety. For every child who dies there are a lot more who are permanently disabled.

“When someone drives with a bottle of wine or eggs on the road they are extra careful – why not take that extra precaution when driving with kids. I’m glad that drivers are committed to this cause of making sure that children are transported in good transport by good drivers,” he says.

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