Over the past two weeks, thousands of youngsters have been getting instructions in the correct way to drive by taking mini pedal cars around a mock-up of a town centre, complete with road signs, pedestrian crossing, roundabout and traffic lights.
My First Licence — I Know My Road Rules helped 3,000 children from nine schools in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi to learn basic road rules and signs, before giving them the chance to put what they learnt into practice on the streets.
Hesham Ahmed Khan, 6, a Year 1 pupil at Gems Cambridge International School, said it was fun learning about the road signs and the basic road rules.
“We learnt about red, yellow and red traffic signals, the roundabout, U-turn, stop and other signs," he said. “We need to put our seat belts on, and my dad should not be using the phone while driving or we’ll crash."
Ali Salem Al Mazrouie, 5, said he learnt that children should not sit in the front seat as the airbag can cause injuries in a crash.
Shouq Al Jasmi, 6, agreed, saying: “I need to sit on the back of the car with my seat belt on. Talking on the phone while driving is bad."
At a zebra crossing, children were taught to look left and right twice and make sure that the road is clear before they can cross, said six-year-old Janina Fathima Sirujuddeen. “Inside the bus, we should put our seat-belts on and not talk too loudly because we’ll distract the driver," she said.
Each child who completed the practice driving session received a mock-up licence, carrying their name, photograph and school, an interactive story book on road rules and a “We Know Our Road Rules" magnet.
Organisers and school officials were impressed by the children’s knowledge of road safety rules.
“It leads them from safe passengers to safe drivers, isn’t it?" said Kelvin Hornsby, the school’s new principal.
“That’s what you’re looking for because everybody in the car has a responsibility to play for their safety."
Albie Huyser, the school’s vice principal, said the message could be passed on to the parents.
“We make a big issue about how to help and support your parents, how to look for any dangers on the road," she said. “This initiative is absolutely worth it. They can tell their parents ‘fasten your seat-belt. Don’t speak on the phone while driving’."
Instilling good road-safety habits from a young age is important, said Roshanara Sait, director of Ciel Marketing & Events, which organised the campaign along with BMW Group Middle East.
“If the child can influence a parent’s driving style, it would have more effect than paying a fine," she said. “If you can save one life, it would really make a huge difference."
Leanne Blanckenberg, corporate communications manager for BMW Group, said: “These children will one day be motorists on our roads. We therefore need to instil good road-safety habits and ensure they are aware of their responsibilities as pedestrians, passengers and future drivers from an early age to ensure safer roads for the future."
The campaign ended on Thursday (May 26) at Gems Winchester School. It was supported by the Abu Dhabi Police, Roads and Transport Authority and Knowledge and Human Development Authority.