Teaching and learning

Best practice road safety education

Road safety is a key health issue. Road-related trauma is one of the leading causes of accidental death and injury for children and young people in NSW. Through our partnership with Transport for NSW, we are committed to help reduce this by supporting teachers to implement quality road safety education programs in preschools, primary and secondary schools.

Effective road safety education programs in schools need to:

  • reflect the department's Road safety education, driver education and training policy
  • address the outcomes and content of the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) K-10 syllabus, and the Safe Travel learning context of the Stage 6 25-hour mandatory course Life Ready
  • be developmentally appropriate
  • be taught sequentially in every stage of learning K-10, by teachers
  • contribute to students' knowledge, skills, and understandings of being a personally and socially responsible road user
  • reflect local road safety issues
  • take a strengths-based approach
  • be ongoing, not a one-off event when using external providers
  • avoid the use of shock or fear tactics
  • raise awareness of the importance of parent and carers modelling and promoting safe travel.
  • recognise the vulnerabilities of children and young people as pedestrians, passengers, wheels users, and future drivers.
  • use relevant and appropriate road safety resources
  • teach Driver education in NSW secondary schools, not driver training.

A whole-school approach to road safety education is where schools, parents, carers and communities work together to create a safe supportive environment for students to learn, understand, practise and apply road safety knowledge and skills.

The Road Safety Education Program uses this approach when supporting NSW government schools K-12 to:

  • improve quality teaching of the curriculum
  • create and maintain a safe supportive culture, environment, and policy
  • engage and liaise with parents, carers and the school community.


Effective road safety teaching and learning is:

  • localised, student-centred, skills-focused and engaging
  • strengths-based with educative purpose
  • aligned with PDHPE K-10 and Stage 6 PDHPE Life Skills syllabuses, and Stage 6 Life Ready course learning outcomes
  • taught in each stage of learning

Policy, environment and culture

Schools create and sustain a safe environment on-site and in the school zone by using:

  • the department's Road Safety Education Policy
  • risk management tools
  • duty of care processes
  • safe road user procedures
  • local stakeholders

Parents, carers and community partnerships

The whole school community:

  • shares responsibility for keeping children safe
  • reinforces safe road use
  • acts safely in the road environment
  • engages in decision making about safe travel.

Some groups that work with schools and students may use video clips, images or testimonials to scare young people about the negative consequences of risky road behaviour. With good intentions, they hope that young people will change their behaviour.

Research says that using shock or fear tactics to frighten young people generally don't work. Those who are affected and likely to accept the message about acting safely are usually the ones not engaging in risky behaviours to start with!

Fear and shock tactics are least effective in those who most need to change their behaviour. Others will reject the messages by denying, ridiculing, neutralising or minimising them.

The department does not recommend the use of shock or fear tactics with students in nsw public schools.

The curriculum content aims to build on knowledge, understanding and skills and challenge attitudes towards road safety rather than rely on scaring or frightening the audience.

PDHPE K-12 - Advice about shock and fear tactics

Source: What doesn't work for young road users and why, NZ Transport Agency

Road safety education takes a strengths-based approach, acknowledging most students come to the learning area feeling positive about their health. It also recognises that all children and young people have particular strengths and interests that can be nurtured to improve their own and others' health and wellbeing.

A strengths-based approach in Personal Development, Health and Physical Education K-10 Syllabus (PDHPE) encourages students to draw on their own and others’ strengths, capacities, capabilities and resources to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills, values and attitudes they require to make healthy, safe and active choices to improve their own and others’ health, safety, wellbeing and participation in physical activity.

Quality road safety education teaching and learning empowers children and young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be safe road users, and avoids activities that have little impact on this.

Principals and teachers have primary responsibility for education programs in schools. They need to consider the expertise and approaches of external providers or individuals in the delivery of road safety education.

Research says that all external experiences need pre and post teacher delivered activities. One-off speakers or sessions, isolated from the context of a planned approach to education will have minimal effect to positively change young road user behaviours.

Best practice road safety education advocates that students be actively engaged in their learning as opposed to being a passive observer.

Schools can use the Engaging external road safety providers programs checklist (pdf) when deciding to use an external road safety provider. It can assist in determining if the provider supports the school's road safety education program.

Source: What doesn't work for young road users and why, Road Safety Education, Victoria (PDF 135KB)

Road safety teaching and learning resources

Find resources to support teachers localise road safety to support their students' local needs.

PDHPE curriculum support

Teachers can get further support for implementing the PDHPE syllabus by going to the department's PDHPE curriculum pages.


  • Teaching and learning


  • road-safety

Business Unit:

  • Teaching Quality and Impact
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