By Naila Tariq
American University of Sharjah’s Road Safety Awareness Committee held a Road Safety Awareness Campaign from February 28–March 3, 2016 to raise awareness and change people’s attitudes towards safe driving.
According to Dr. Rana Raddawi, Faculty Senate President, the senate formed the ad hoc committee “with a primary mission to change the behavior and attitudes of reckless drivers on campus and help save human lives.”
The senate president explained that the campaign is part of the Road Safety Awareness Program, which the senate is initiating this year in collaboration with the administration, the academic units and the Office of Student Affairs.
The program aims to promote road safety among all members of the campus community, as well as among visitors, such taxi drivers, bus drivers and delivery drivers. Since one of the Senate’s functions is to ensure the safety of the community, road safety is considered a “serious matter of welfare,” Dr. Raddawi continued.
The AUS Faculty Senate President emphasized the importance of starting with education. The program is designed to be sustainable, with a Road Safety-themed event every year.
One of the main events at the awareness week was a panel made up of members of the Sharjah Police, ER and trauma doctors, an AUS Safety and Security officer and a student, who will discuss issues related to road safety. A number of videos were also shown throughout the week: a filmed visit to victims of car accidents, testimonial and informative videos about road safety on campus, and another on safety regulations and measures.
As part of the campaign, Dr. Raddawi hosted a workshop on the emotional intelligence of drivers. Another workshop was also held on the psychology of bad drivers.
To make the campaign progressive, information desks will be set up in every AUS academic building, where people can get informational pamphlets and get answers to their road safety related questions.
The campaign was not limited to students and faculty only, it also included faculty spouses and even the children living on campus. The Epicenter, a center for the children of AUS faculty and staff, showed cartoons and told stories about road safety in order to encourage good driving habits early on.
“Any change in cultural behavior needs communication,” said Dr. Raddawi, explaining why the awareness week was important.
Some students expressed interest in the campaign.
“If you made it in such a way that they make people aware that this could happen to anyone, you could be the driver or you could be the one getting hit, then it could be helpful,” said AUS student Mariama Osoble.
“A lot of people when they drive here, they don’t really think about the consequences of it. They’re thinking about ‘Oh I need to get to class on time,’ or ‘Everyone is in a hurry so it’s okay if I am as well,’” said senior Azmat Fatima Siddiqui.
Siddiqui added that she thinks it would be helpful to talk to people about it.
The committee also recommended that faculty members should show their support by encouraging their students to learn the importance of road safety through engaging in “projects, research, essay writing, reflection and discussion in class,” on the topic of road safety, Dr. Raddawi said.
Students who registered to participate in the Awareness Week received certificates of participation.
Naila Tariq is a student at American University of Sharjah.
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