A South Australian road safety program is being adopted by the country’s elite sporting codes, including the Australian Football League, Rugby Union and Australia’s state cricketers, to keep their young athletes safe.
The Road Awareness Program (RAP) has been operating in South Australia since 2005 and is targeted at Year 11 students – and their parents.
The (SA)MFS Road Awareness Program (RAP) on The Project from Adelaide BMW.
Operated by the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS), Station Officer and RAP coordinator Rod Campbell said the program has had a large, measurable impact on young road users.
Students learn that they can choose the risk but they can’t choose the consequences of that risk
In the previous five years prior to 2011 the South Australian road toll averaged 20 fatalities each year in the 16-19 year age group.
In 2011 this number dropped to six, followed by seven in 2012; two in 2013 and four in 2014.
“The program quickly gained the attention of other groups around the country, ‘’ Campbell said.
“The program empowers 16-19 year olds to be responsible road users and eliminate risky road behaviour.
“Students learn that they can choose the risk but they can’t choose the consequences of that risk.
“We were invited to by the AFL Player’s Association to run the program during their induction camp and we have addressed a number of AFL clubs including Gold Coast, North Melbourne and the Adelaide Crows.’’
Other elite sports were quick to grasp the benefits of the program including the Australian Cricketers Association. The program will also be presented in December to the Rugby Union Players Association in New South Wales.
In South Australian secondary schools the program is presented over two days, the first day targets parents of children approaching driving age while the second day is delivered to the students themselves during school hours.
“Along with the coordinator we include guest presenters, often people who have survived car crashes,’’ Campbell said.
“They include people who have suffered brain injuries, and sometimes those who are now in wheelchairs as a result of a crash. They deliver a very powerful message of the consequences of risk taking while driving.
“Other messages include how to be a safe passenger, choices, attitudes and how to look after your mates.
“Reassuringly we also ask the students if they will adopt safer road behavior as a result of attending the program and we always get 100 per cent ‘yes’ reply.’’
General Manager of Road Safety for the Motor Accident Commission Michael Cornish said the strength of the RAP presentation was that the members of the MFS who attend crash scenes and see road trauma first hand are able to share their experiences with students.
“These are real stories that highlight that road trauma extends beyond immediate family and into the community,’’ he said.