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Ten-One Community Edition September 05

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Children learn 'tracks are for trains'

NZ Police, Toll New Zealand, ONTRACK, Land Transport New Zealand, Connex, ARTNL, and ARTA, recently introduced a nationwide rail safety education programme for children aged eight to 11 years.

Children learn 'tracks are for trains'

"A similar rail safety programme has been working in schools since 1993 but it is the first time rail industry organisations, police, and local body groups have joined forces for a major rail safety education initiative," says Gill Palmer Curriculum Officer, NZ Police Youth Education Service, OoC.

Gill organised a working party to rewrite the programme now dubbed 'Tracks are for Trains '.

"'Tracks are for Trains' has been developed to help children understand the reasons why trains are so dangerous, and of the importance of keeping off the rail tracks, " says Gill.

"Level crossing collisions have declined from 47 in 1996, to 33 in the 2004 calendar year. However, trespassers on the rail corridor are a major problem and one that rail operators take very seriously. Over the past five years 57 people have been killed after being hit by trains while trespassing across the rail lines."

The programme demonstrates safe behaviour at railway stations and level crossings. It comprises lessons for children around three major themes – About Trains, About Tracks, and About Us.

The key messages of the programme are:

  • Trains are heavy, trains are quiet. You can't always hear a train coming
  • Trains take a long time to stop, and they can't swerve quickly
  • You're only allowed to cross railway tracks at a legal crossing
  • The rail corridor is out of bounds
  • Keep at least 1.5 metres back from the edge of the platform
  • Stop, Look, and Listen
  • Always take care around trains
  • Tracks are for trains only

Gill says the existing resource was reviewed by teachers and educators including police education staff, and provided an excellent starting point for redevelopment into a tighter, more safety-focused programme.

She says police involvement is important. "Research shows that children respect and take notice of a police education officer [PEO], and when a PEO and a teacher combine in the classroom, there is a very powerful medium for instruction."

The new resource kit contains a teaching guide, video, DVD, copy sheets, stories, posters, tips for teachers, and a rail safety game. There's also a pamphlet for parents and caregivers. The resource is available free of charge to more than 2000 primary and intermediate schools, and will be distributed by the 130 PEO's throughout the country.

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