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Vientiane school promotes road safety

Shortly before 4 pm on Monday to Friday each week, a group of students and teachers at Vientiane Secondary School walk to the busy road outside and prepare to stop vehicles so that other students can safely cross the street.

They go to the zebra crossing in the front of the school at about 3.45pm carrying two sticks with small red flags tied on top. Different students and teachers are assigned to this task every day.

Two students holding the sticks with the red flags stand on opposite sides of the road. They wave the flags to get vehicles to stop, and their classmates coming out of school quickly walk across the road.

A traffic policeman from Chanthabouly district stops vehicles to help students cross the road safely.

After one group has crossed the road, the two students lift up their sticks, allowing the waiting vehicles to proceed. This exercise is repeated until all the students have crossed the road.

After classes, those who need to cross the road stand close to the zebra crossing and wait for a signal from the students assigned to the school's road safety programme. Every day, the students assigned to this duty spend about 30 minutes making sure that everyone crosses the road safely.

Meanwhile some parents park their cars or motorbikes by the side of the road opposite the school as they wait for their children.

“We don't do this in the morning because many parents drop their children off right outside the entrance so they don't have to cross the road,” said the Principal of Vientiane Secondary School, Ms Viengsouvanh Phaxaysombath.

To ensure that everyone understands the importance of the road safety programme, Ms Viengsouvanh addresses the students twice a week, advising them how to walk safely on roads. These talks take place on Monday morning after the school hoists the national flag and on Friday afternoon before the flag is lowered.

Ms Viengsouvanh explains the importance of road safety by encouraging students to cross roads only at zebra crossings. In addition, they are advised to wear helmets if they ride a motorbike, and to use seat belts if they are in a car. They are also advised to pass on these messages to their parents so they can take joint responsibility for road safety.

Since the school began this activity in the 1980s, there have been no reports of any accidents involving students crossing the road.

“I believe this initiative is beneficial and should continue forever,” said Ms Viengsouvanh.

In addition, the school asks at least two traffic policemen from Chanthabouly district to stop vehicles to help students cross t he road safely.

As the school is located on a busy thoroughfare, Ms Viengsouvanh believes road safety is a topic that needs strong emphasis.

Every year, the school invites police officers from Chanthabouly district to explain the traffic regulations to students and teachers so that they learn more about road safety.

But the teachers involved in the road safety programme are facing a challenge. Some parents who pick up their children after classes park on the roadside. These vehicles are parked in three lanes of Lane Xang Avenue, narrowing the space available to other vehicles.

This frequently causes traffic jams and also poses problems for any ambulance, rescue vehicle or fire truck using this road.

To ease the congestion, Ms Viengsouvanh urges parents picking up their children from Vientiane Secondary School to behave in a more responsible manner so that other road users aren't inconvenienced.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update September 21, 2017)


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