Teaching and learning

Why teach road safety?

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.

Teaching road safety

The department's Road safety education, driver education and training policy requires that we teach road safety in all stages as part of the PDHPE K-10 syllabus and the 25 hour mandatory course Life Ready for senior students.

Teaching Driver Training is not the responsibility of schools.
Find out what support is available in the department's:

Strengths-based approach

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.

Advice about not using shock tactics

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.

We do not recommend the use of shock or fear tactics with students in our 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.

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

Guidelines for using external providers

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.

If considering engaging an external provider use these guidelines for engaging external providers for Road Safety Education to help decide if it is suitable.

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

PDHPE curriculum support

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

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