Comment: Truck safety included in school curriculum

By: Ken Shirley, Photography by: Claudiad | iStock | Getty Images Plus


The Road Transport Forum has been involved in the development of a new primary school curriculum resource focused on truck safety

The Road Transport Forum is delighted to have recently been involved in the development of a new primary school curriculum resource based on trucks and truck safety.

Keeping Safe Around Trucks has been put together by NZTA with input from top educators and RTF and is designed to provide learning activities within the practical setting of truck safety. It also explores the relationship between trucks, the delivery of freight, and the community.

Truck -safety -curriculum

Keeping Safe Around Trucks is based on a lot of research on how children learn and what kind of teaching is effective. The kind of sustained exposure to an issue that this resource provides is the perfect vehicle to ingrain knowledge of how to be safe around trucks and the importance of road transport to our communities.

The fact that the resource assimilates such life lessons into curriculum topics for science, maths, social studies, health, and PE makes what the students learn so much more relevant to them.

Students exposed to this course will learn important safety messages, such as while you can see the truck, the driver may not be able to see you; trucks travel faster than you often think they are; and trucks need extra space on the road due to their size and weight.

Getting students to discover the fundamentals of physics by analysing the mass and speed of a truck and its potential stopping distance is another example of how truck safety is applied through this curriculum.

This new resource is also a great way to teach children about the role that trucks play in moving freight around the country while allowing them to look into the future and explore potential new transport technologies.

In discussing Keeping Safe Around Trucks, NZTA freight strategy manager, Marinus La Rooij, described the agency’s motivation for developing it as: "While trucks have an important function, those of us not in trucks need to be more aware of some of the safety risks of being around trucks on the road and how to keep ourselves safe.

"Around two-thirds of crashes involving trucks and another vehicle are caused by a mistake by someone not in the truck. So, there is a big opportunity to give people a better idea of what the safety risks are and how to keep themselves safe around trucks."

Internationally recognised education consultant, Pam Hook, was heavily engaged to help develop the resource. Pam uses an innovative classroom-based approach to help students ‘learn to learn’.

Pam is an expert in the SOLO taxonomy method to education. SOLO, which stands for ‘structure of observed learning outcomes’, is advertised as providing a simple, reliable, and robust model for three levels of understanding: surface, deep, and conceptual.

SOLO encourages students to understand that learning is the result of effort and the use of effective strategies rather than luck or fixed abilities. They are then able to monitor their own progress and make decisions about what they learn next and how they go about it. As Pam’s HookED website promotes, SOLO encourages students to ask themselves questions. What am I learning? How is it going? What do I do next?

I applaud the efforts of NZTA’s education and freight teams in putting such an innovative resource together, and it is fantastic that the road transport industry through RTF has been able to help develop it.

Keeping Safe Around Trucks is now available for schools via NZTA’s online education portal, and I encourage parents to persuade their local board of trustees to have a look and consider the programme for their school.

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