Lesson:Road safety role-play

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Note to teachers: The following role-play has been used successfully with advanced level adult students. It doesn't follow standard recommendations for teachers regarding avoidance of certain taboo subjects (see the section on taboos in general) and should therefore only be used with a group that the teacher has "tested" on previous occasions with other, possibly less polemic issues and provided the teacher is confident of his/her ability to put out fires if need be...

Method[edit source]

The lead-in consists of a dictation exercise for the last 10-15 minutes of a class. It serves as the background to the role-play and once correction of each paragraph has been made, it should be discussed fully before going on to the role-play. Natural (?) pauses are marked /

Once the background has been dealt with, and to prevent any suspicion of foul play, students pick their roles out of a "hat" and spend as long as they want to prepare their role, asking the teacher for help with any language if done as a classroom activity, or for homework.

Background[edit source]

After the last / weekend of road accidents, before summer vacation / with many deaths and an even greater / number of seriously injured victims, vacationers are preparing their motorcycles, and travel vehicles for summer recess. / The Government has decided to / take drastic measures. / Recent modifications to the country’s / road regulations, / such as the introduction of / a driving licence based on points, / already in use in other / [your continent here] countries, / and stiffer fines for speeding, / among other measures, / does not seem to have had / the desired effect, / at least not in the short term. / A working group has been set up / to come up with effective / short-and long-term solutions.

Roles[edit source]

Role 1[edit source]

You are a road safety expert. You recently participated in a multidisciplinary pilot project to raise road safety awareness in children. Your experience was very positive and you are convinced that it should be extended to form part of every school syllabus. You have exchanged views on the subject with other road safety experts, both in Spain and abroad, and many of you agree that it should even be repeated on each course, with different activities corresponding to the developmental stages of the students. You argue that the financial aspect of the programme is the least important matter to be discussed, as the ROI would very soon be apparent, not least in human lives. As for disciplinary measures and road safety, you believe zero tolerance is necessary.

Role 2[edit source]

You are a school teacher. Your school recently participated in a road safety programme. Whilst you agree that some sort of road education is necessary, you disagree that the school is the right place to include such activities. One of your long-standing claims is that the school environment must be academic in its outlook, with much less emphasis on practical activities. With the already tight schedule imposed on the school community, you feel that any extra subject can only be included to the detriment of the others on the syllabus. You favour providing alternatives such as, in this case, after-school road safety courses, with varying degrees of speciality, leading to the driving licence which youngsters can attend instead of going to discos, etc.

Role 3[edit source]

You are an official of the education ministry. Your minister is very much interested in giving a more practical slant to the subjects already on the syllabus and aims to bring in new “subjects” such as road safety, civic participation, basic business administration. In this first phase, you are getting in touch with experts from each of these fields with a view to carrying out feasibility studies. On the one hand, the more participation the better, on the other hand, if lobbying starts at such an early level, your experience tells you that nothing will come of all the work. At some stage during this legislative period you will, of course, have to involve other ministries as well as the autonomous communities as the latter have now had education and road transport matters devolved to them.

Role 4[edit source]

You are a driving school instructor and manager. As such, your experience of the sector tells you that it is very sensitive to external interference and is less than willing to participate in school programmes as they would enter into direct conflict with your prospective pool of clients. Your responsibility is only to teach people to drive: if drivers then go on to cause accidents because of their behaviour it has nothing to do with you. On the other hand, if the government were to impose some form of road safety classes in schools, you are sure that private enterprise would run such courses with greater efficiency. You already have a long list of companies that have shown interest in joining a sponsorship initiative they consider will give them a competitive edge.

Role 5[edit source]

You are the president of an association of victims of road accidents. You are extremely critical of the hypocrisy of society in general and of all the parties involved in matters relating to road safety in particular: the authorities, at all levels, for not going far enough in imposing existing legislation; the educational community for not being more active in what is primarily a question of education and training; and the motor industry for producing cars too fast and powerful for the average driver to handle safely, for not incorporating all existing safety features in all their models, and for marketing their products through advertisements which directly encourage dangerous driving. Your association has a number of proposals, tacometers for all motor vehicles, community work for offenders, zero tolerance, etc., the short- and long-term benefits of which to society should be only too obvious.

Role 6[edit source]

You are a psychologist. As in the case of violence against women and children, you have no doubt whatsoever that the unacceptable road accident figures can only be significantly reduced by changing modern society’s indifference to suffering and its general lack of civicism, personal responsibility and solidarity. The general public must be actively involved in the debate, and accidents seen to be the result of imprudence or downright disregard for other people. Prevention must necessarily be the main aim and backed by penalties that are strictly observed and seen to be effective As punishments are only effective if immediate, you insist that existing penalties, such as fines and withdrawal of the licence be imposed on the spot. Visits and/or community work in hospitals specialising in rehabilitation for road accident victims is another measure you consider effective both as a preventive measure and/or punishment.

Role 7[edit source]

You are the president of a road users’ association. You blame the government for the high road accident figures. You claim that if roads were in better condition, with better road-signing and the black spots eliminated, it would also be possible to raise the minimum speed limits to reflect the higher performances of modern cars. Your association holds that privately run motorways have fewer accidents with much-higher-than-average speeds than ordinary roads. You believe that the current system of near-zero tolerance towards drivers is similar to that of a police state. Modern cars are fitted with sufficient passive and active safety features, such as airbags and hands-off telephone systems for it not to be necessary to impose so many sanctions on drivers. Another unacceptable cause of accidents is the high number of level crossings.

See also[edit source]