Offering Traffic Safety Seminars for Elementary School Students

Traffic accidents caused by trucks can be prevented through road safety campaigns
According to the fact sheet published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2017, the world sees 1.25 million road traffic deaths each year. In Japan, fatal road accidents involving commercial trucks are on the decline. The number, however, still exceeds the target set by the Japan Trucking Association, which means that the promotion of road safety remains a major task the country needs to tackle. Although heavy-duty trucks in particular often lead to grave consequences, the opportunities for the public to learn about those accidents are limited in their daily lives.

To reduce road accidents involving trucks to zero, we offer a hands-on educational program on road safety.
The program focuses on leading causes of road accidents and how to behave safely.
Saitama Prefecture has continuously ranked among the worst prefectures for the numbers of fatal road accidents caused by commercial trucks: 1st in 2013, 3rd in 2014, 5th in 2015, and again 1st in 2016*. As a truck manufacturer based in Saitama, UD Trucks hoped to help reduce road accidents. This is how we began to plan the traffic safety seminars for school children.

This initiative aims to help children understand what they should do to stay safe around a heavy-duty truck and other vehicles. It is also linked to the
“Stop, Look, Wave” campaign, a road safety program that the Volvo Group has launched across the globe. The hands-on seminar focuses on three points: teaching a truck’s blind spots; teaching the difference in circular arcs that front and rear inner wheels follow when a truck makes a turn; and having children think what to do to stay safe by the roadside.

* Source: Statistical data from the Japan Trucking Association. Light-duty vehicles are not included in the commercial trucks in the survey.

The first seminar was held in Ageo where UD Trucks is based.
In June 2016, with help from Ageo City’s board of education, we held the first traffic safety seminar for fourth graders of an elementary school in Ageo. Using real trucks, our employees supported the seminar as operation staff and instructors.
Children who participated said, “There were more spots I couldn’t see from the driver’s seat than I’d thought,” and “I’ll step further back when I wait for a truck to make a turn at an intersection.” In 2016 we held the seminars for about 440 children from four elementary schools. We plan to continue offering the program in 2017 and thereafter.

Traffic Safety Seminar for Elementary School Students

Experience a truck’s blind spots
The instructor illustrated a truck’s size, blind spots, and differences in circular arcs the inner wheels follow. Then she had one of the children sit in the driver’s seat of the real heavy-duty truck and other children stand around the vehicle and asked the one inside the truck who he/she can or cannot see, thereby showing dangerous spots around the vehicle.

Experience the difference in circular arcs that front and rear inner wheels follow
We had the truck run through a mock intersection to demonstrate how a pedestrian can get caught in the wheels as the vehicle makes a left turn, thereby showing how dangerous the difference in circular arcs is. We placed an obstacle acting as a pedestrian waiting for the walk signal in the path of the rear wheels to illustrate the danger more realistically.

Think what to do to stay safe by the roadside
Toward the end of the program, children answered quiz questions about a trucks’ blind spots and the difference in circular arcs that front and rear inner wheels follow to refresh their memory, and brainstormed what they should do to stay safe by the roadside. Moreover, all children sat in the heavy-duty truck’s driver’s seat to experience the real field of vision from there. They left the seminar with a greater awareness of road safety.

Our dealers also offer the traffic safety seminars
Our dealers in Yokohama and the Tohoku region also held the traffic safety seminars for local school children.
– Yamagata Customer Center
– Yokohama Customer Center

We received a variety of feedback from the children’s teachers. (responses to our questionnaires)
The lesson was planned from children’s perspective. The explanations were clear in a way that helps children remember what they have learned.

The children acquired adequate understanding through the lecture, hands-on experience, and recapitulation.
We felt assured that the children were in good hands when we saw many people from UD Trucks interacted with them in a caring manner.
Many of the children say they will practice what they have learned. It was a meaningful seminar.

As teachers, we were inspired to improve our safety guidance and how we teach it.

Since the lesson in this program was hands-on, we believe the children will apply what they learned to their behavior by the roadside.

Our Program Operator:
I hope the program will continue to help children —vulnerable road users—to learn about road safety.

As I saw the children seriously working on the lesson, I was sure they understood a heavy-duty truck’s blind spots and the difference in circular arcs that front and rear inner wheels follow. At UD Trucks, I develop safe driving support systems for trucks to help drivers drive safely.
I believe that the number of road accidents can be reduced when all road users have due regard for the safety of other users. The traffic safety seminar is an opportunity for me to help children who are vulnerable road users learn about road safety, and I find the work rewarding. I’d be happy if I could contribute to a reduced number of road accidents through running the seminar.

Yuichi Hirota
Vehicle Electronics & Systems Engineering, UD Trucks Technology