A Guideline for Safer School Travel and Safer School Environments in Austria
M Schopf and M Mailer, University of Technology Vienna, AT
The Austrian accident record provides a clear picture of child casualties: on average every 7th casualty of children aged 6 to 15 happens on their way to school or a school event. Most of the accidents happen at junctions (more than 30 %), especially at priority junctions (13,9 %). Even Zebra-Crossings,which by law give priority to the pedestrians, can not sufficiently protect the school children (14 % of accidents). On the other hand the National Travel Survey shows how children in the 6 to 15 year age group travel to school (Walk 36 %, Bicycle 7 %, Car Passenger 14 %, Public Transport 43 %). These figures describe the starting point for actions to make school travel safer. To improve safety especially in the immediate school environment the Austrian Association Road and Transport is working out a specific guideline at the moment. It is focused on transport planning and road design measures which are promoting safe behaviour of all road users. It is introducing and evaluating various traffic calming measures and showing examples of suitable design of the school environment. The aim is to inform and motivate all relevant parties involved to take actions. It includes a checklist designed for parents, teachers and public authorities concerning the school and its environment, the way to school and information. This guideline is based on the findings of several relevant projects and pupil interviews. In 1994 an extensive survey as been carried out in all Austrian schools. To analyse the immediate surrounding of the school as well as the entire school run two sets of questionnaires were developed (School and Pupilquestionnaire). The two sets of data could be linked and give a comprehensive picture about safety on the school run. The analysis of the traffic situation in the immediate area around schools showed great differences between main entry area, the side and the backside. Major safety problems are related to on street parking in front of the school. In the survey walking and cycling infrastructure are evaluated. The study informs about school crossing patrol and reported traffic conflicts and near misses and their causing factors. The pupils were asked about their well-being and safety sensation. The data were related to their experiences. The study has recently been backed up by another survey focusing on cycling to school.
The paper describes the situation in Austria, introduces the new guideline and presents the preceding surveys.
The paper will also address another common concern related to traffic safety of children, car traffic resulting from parents driving their children to school. Recent studies of Jones and Bradshaw suggest that the improvement of public transport is the most effective measure to reduce the number of escort trips. The evaluation of the introduction of a city bus service with low fare for children in an Austrian city, however, showed that the increased number of bus trips correlated with less pupils walking. Only very few escort trips could be replaced.
Association for European Transport