Ford South Africa doing its part for Global Road Safety Week
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Gqeberha - Ford South Africa has partnered with the ChildSafe Pedestrian Safety Programme to launch Global Road Safety Week in association with the Eastern Cape Department of Transport. The launch, which took place at Masakhane Primary School in Kwazakhele, Gqeberha, is aligned with the United Nations Global Road Safety Week that runs from 17 to 23 May 2021. The theme this year is “Streets for Life” campaign to reduce speed around schools.
The launch reinforces ChildSafe’s efforts to create safer environments for child pedestrians around school zones, change road user behaviour and raise community-wide awareness regarding pedestrian safety. The ChildSafe Pedestrian Safety Programme was recently awarded a R750 000 grant from Ford Motor Company Fund to support its child road safety campaign. It aims to benefit 15 000 school children, 5 000 parents and 150 teachers, and is currently focused on six schools in Gqeberha near Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant, and a further six schools in Mamelodi near Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria.
BUILDING ON A GLOBAL EVENT
“The United National Global Road Safety Week is the perfect platform to raise awareness around the critical issues of pedestrian safety and driving behaviour,” says Yolande Baker, executive director of ChildSafe. “Approximately 11 million children walk to school every day in South Africa, and 64 percent of all child road deaths are pedestrians. Children are very vulnerable on the way to school due to their small height and underdeveloped cognitive abilities, combined with the lack of safe walking areas, speeding drivers and drivers not looking out for pedestrians.”
WHY FORD IS INVOLVED
Promoting road safety is one of the key focal points for Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company. It supports a number of road safety initiatives around the world by providing grants, and through its Ford Driving Skills for Life training programme that is offered free to new and experienced drivers in 46 countries around the world.
More than 1.25 million people have been trained through hands-on, classroom or online Ford Driving Skills for Life courses since it was launched in the United States in 2003.
“Sadly, South Africa’s statistics are amongst the worst for road accidents, injuries and fatalities,” says Shawn Govender, Plant manager at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant. “Pedestrians are most at risk, especially in poor communities where there is a lack of proper road infrastructure. Creating safer pedestrian zones, including sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, is an important step towards addressing this national crisis. However, these measures alone won’t solve the problem, as we need a significant culture change amongst both motorists and pedestrians regarding road safety and awareness. This needs to be complemented by effective law enforcement to ensure that the rules of the road are adhered to, and reckless endangerment of other drivers and pedestrians is addressed and becomes socially unacceptable.”