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Road safety

VIA: an innovative and participatory road safety awareness approach

Worldwide, more than 227,000 young people under 20 are killed in road accidents each year. It’s the main cause of death for 15 to 17 year-olds. Safety is a key value at TotalEnergies. Our aim is to reduce the number of road accident victims by heightening awareness, in particular among young people. It’s a real issue that concerns us all.

The VIA road safety awareness program is designed for young people aged 10 to 18, and was kicked off by Total Foundation in partnership with the Michelin Foundation. Its innovative learning format places young people in real-life situations around their schools, so that they can try out new behaviors and learn how to be proactive in ensuring their own safety.

The team at the CSTJF wants to present the program to educational or associative organizations that work for the benefit of young people in Pau and the Béarn region. In May 2020, a meeting with a set of local partners served to heighten their awareness and, for some of them, to get started immediately - the volunteers tempted to implement the project for their own target audience of young people appointed experts to take the free training course. Since then, many social and educational structures in the territory have been won over by the VIA initiative.


Young people, key drivers of the program

The purpose of VIA is to encourage young people to become ambassadors of safe mobility, to increase their safety on their journeys to and from school. The method draws on the experiences of young people and children, and is automatically adapted to them and to their age group. It’s the young people who think about the risks they may encounter on the road, either as pedestrians or with other forms of mobility. Alongside the others in their group, they will also look for, design and put forward solutions.

The training helps future experts become familiar with and draw on resources in modules that involve a skills-based, rather than knowledge-based teaching method, whether those skills are emotional, creative or social. For instructors of the method, the main advantage is the versatile and modular approach. The wide variety of activities proposed by VIA, and the diversity of situations the educational staff face, help adapt teaching methods. The awareness-raising phase is based essentially on knowledge enhancement modules.

"I’m particularly sensitive to the topic of road safety, and it’s essential to raise awareness among young people to prevent road accidents. I also like to share my knowledge and skills and the educational methods proposed in the VIA program appealed to me." explains Hélène Ruiz, an advisor in social and family economics for people with disabilities at PEP64, in Jurançon. "The approach is extremely innovative, I really liked the new perspective that the VIA method provides. As instructors or teachers, we have knowledge that we pass on, whereas in this case, everything is based on discussion and exchange - among the young people. They observe situations and draw conclusions, discuss them together and make one another think about their behaviors. It’s a very interesting way of approaching a debate with students, as they find the solutions to problems themselves" she observes. She adds that the testimony given by Nadia Karmel, the victim of a road accident in which her two daughters perished, really hit home with the students. In a live session streamed just for their class, the students were able to talk to her once she had told her story.

VIA is also a competition!

The second phase of the program involves commitment. It is based on creativity and implementation modules. It involves each school or structure participating at least in the “VIA Creative” international poster competition. This competition is a way of communicating about the entire program by inviting students to think about ways of raising awareness of pedestrian safety on the way to and from school among young people and adults . Participants in the competition, in teams of no more than five, have to think up a message and express it creatively on a poster. The international competition goes through a first final phase in each country. This phase ends with the appointment of young VIA ambassadors for safe mobility. Local associations have already made the podium in France!

The long-term objective is for the program to be continued and become a permanent part of road safety awareness programs in the territories. The leitmotiv of the VIA program is to raise awareness among children in early childhood. The worldwide road safety program was gradually rolled out, with 200,000 young people in summer 2022, then gained ground and has now exceeded the 500,000 threshold. VIA is present in 40 countries and on the 5 continents through 1,500 schools and youth structures and in partnership with around 40 NGOs/local associations.

"Locally, we really want to make sure that the populations get to know about the solidarity programs and initiatives run by our Corporate Foundation. We firmly believe in the VIA program and we invite any organizations that are interested to contact us. We will be the intermediaries between them and the contacts dedicated to the implementation of the program.  Feel free to ask for further information: [email protected]"


The VIA program

#Entreprisesengagées Pyrénées Atlantiques published an article on its website on the first local deployment of the VIA road safety program: Read the account by Gaëtan Galleteau.