UMW Toyota Motor officially launched the Toyota Traffic Tots, a three-year road safety programme targeted at preschool children, at the Bukit Damansara Community Centre. The event, which was officiated by Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha, the Minister of Transport, was attended by over 300 guests comprising government officials, teachers and children of the Smart Reader Worldwide selected centres.
The Toyota Traffic Tots is an extension of the car manufacturer’s Road Safety Programme which marks the fifth year it is being conducted. Working with programme partners, Road Safety Department and Smart Reader Worldwide, the Toyota Traffic Tots programme is aimed at providing preschool children with essential road safety knowledge in support of the government’s National Road Safety Action Plan.
In his welcome speech, Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha mentioned that, “With 21 million vehicles on the roads and almost 1 million new vehicles being registered every year, safety has become an issue of paramount importance, particularly among small children who have poor understanding of dangers of the road.” In addition, he said that children often put themselves or their friends in danger while playing or waiting for their transportation to bring them home due to their rash and inquisitive nature.
Dato’ Seri Kong also described the Toyota Traffic Tots as the ideal complement to the Road Safety Education (RSE), a partnership between the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Education to teach road safety in schools.
The RSE, which was initiated in 2008 to include road safety lessons to Primary 1 school-children, was expanded to all primary school students in 2010. Beginning this year, the RSE will be taught to Secondary 1 students, with the aim of further expanding to Secondary 2 and 3 in the year 2013.
Hence, the Toyota Traffic Tots is most timely as it captures a target group that is not captured by the RSE and complements the overall road safety awareness programmes.
This is echoed by Mr Ismet Suki, President of UMW Toyota Motor, who agreed that there is a void in road safety awareness among younger children. In the past, children below the age of six are believed to be ‘safer’ as they are still under the protective wings of parents or caregivers.
“The key message is that road safety awareness should begin as soon as possible so that safety values can be ingrained in early childhood. Therefore, the Toyota Traffic Tots programme is proud to be pioneering the drive to fill this void in road safety awareness among younger children,” Mr Ismet shared.
The pilot project will begin with ten selected Smart Reader preschool centres in Klang Valley this year, progressing to twenty centres the following year and thirty centres in 2014 nationwide.
Under the programme, children will be provided age-appropriate lessons on road safety encompassing two categories – passenger safety and pedestrian safety. The former will include lessons on wearing safety belts and identifying traffic signs, while the latter will consist of lessons on road and vehicle dangers.
The lessons will be conducted for one hour every month, while teachers selected to conduct the road safety modules will be provided with training and teaching kit to ensure they are well-versed with the lessons.
“Our philosophy is that road safety should be taught when the child is still young as the knowledge will stay with them for a lifetime. Our message for the children is as simple as ABC- Always Be Careful. Where safety is concerned, there is simply no room for error,” said Mr Ismet.