Science and road safety

The National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA) wanted to find a new way to teach primary school students about road safety that went beyond telling children “what” to do and instead explained “why” and “how”.

Typically when asked, a child can tell you that wearing a seatbelt and bike helmet will keep them safe yet few can demonstrate how to fit this safety equipment correctly to prevent injury in a crash. As children don’t understand the forces acting on them while in motion they often hold misconceptions about what is safe and what is not. Unfortunately these misconceptions often continue as they learn to drive.

NRMA have taken a proactive approach to young driver safety by instilling road safe attitudes and behaviours in primary school. We feel that if children understand the science then the road safety messages they hear daily from parents and teachers will be more relevant.

In 2013, we approached Fizzics Education to help turn our vision into reality. We were looking for a Road Safety Show that demonstrated Newton’s Laws of Motion in an easily digestible manner. We emphasised the importance of wearing safety equipment and how to fit it correctly. As children are responsible for fitting their seatbelts and bike helmets and it was important that they got it right.

We had worked with Fizzics Education previously and we knew their reputation for staging science shows in schools. They offered us the trained science professionals we needed to ensure a high energy, fun show that was underpinned by educational rigor.

Our first NRMA Science & Road Safety Day was delivered in February 2014. Since then we have visited over 220 schools and educated 100,000 students across NSW and ACT. The program is delivered free of charge to schools as part of NRMA’s commitment to road safety education.

An NRMA Science & Road Safety Day is a whole day of road safety where students attend one of three road safety shows each tailored to their curriculum needs. Students are involved in the different demonstrations on stage and when not watching the show they are working on NRMA Road Safety Workbooks which reinforce the road safety messages of the show. Parents are invited to the watch shows so they can learn more about child road safety.

Including science into the teaching road safety provides students with a more holistic understanding of people in motion. In turn this provides more meaning and relevance to the road safety messages they will hear at school and at home. Children who know how to fit their own seatbelt and bike helmets correctly are able to take control of their safety and are more confident to help others stay safe.

With the help of Fizzics Education we have achieved our vision for creating a new way of teaching road safety to children.

About the author
Venera Owens is Senior Manager, Motoring Education & Information at the National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA). Find out more about NRMA Road Safety Day.