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Principles of best practice for road safety education: A formative evaluation of best practice principles for school-based road safety education in Australia

The Child Health Promotion Research Centre was contracted to conduct a formative evaluation of best practice in road safety education on behalf of the School Drug Education and Road Aware Project (SDERA). The aim of this research was to determine best practice in road safety education for Australian schools, using empirical, descriptive and theoretical literature to guide their development and supported by expert consultation and school case studies. The principles will be utilised by teachers and other health educators wishing to develop, implement or evaluate road safety interventions in schools.

The research comprised five discrete phases culminating in the preparation of 16 Principles of Best Practice for road safety education in Australian schools. A thorough and systematic literature search and review were conducted to determine existing successful road safety education strategies as well as explore school-based successes in other health content areas. Inclusion criteria for the development of principles of best practice were defined, and using the criteria coupled with empirical, theoretical and practical evidence, draft principles of best practice for road safety education in Australian schools were developed. After internal review, the principles of best practice were sent to a national expert panel convened for this project which comprised road safety education practitioners and policy makers from all states of Australia. Using a Delphi technique, panel members were asked to rate to what extent they agreed with the inclusion of each principle and how important the principle was to road safety education in schools. General consensus was reached after two rounds of feedback and after minor revisions, the principles of best practice for road safety education in schools were finalised. To support the implementation of the principles, case studies of 35 Australian schools were conducted and further validation and feedback sought in a workshop of 80 participants at a national road safety workshop held in Melbourne, Victoria.

In the development of these Principles of Best Practice for road safety education, previous best practice principles developed for drug education, mental health and road safety were reviewed. The resultant research contained within this report represents a rigorous process for developing and validating principles of best practice. Further, the expert validation, stringent inclusion criteria and consideration of the applicability of the principles in the real world, set these Principles of Best Practice apart from those reviewed.

The final Principles of Best Practice for Road Safety Education in Australian Schools are presented in this report, and, organised by the Health Promoting Schools Model, provide guidance for teachers and administrators implementing road safety education strategies in schools. Further, due to the complexities of children’s cognitive, physical and emotional development, developmentally appropriate pointers for teachers of children in K-3, 4-7, 8-10 and 11-12 are provided. Pointers for rural and remote teachers and practitioners are also included.

The final 16 Principles of Best Practice in Road Safety Education are described below:

1. Overarching Principle

  • Principle 1.1 - Implement evidence-based road safety education programs and initiatives in schools and include local research and current legislation where available.

2. Policy and Practice

  • Principle 2.1 - Consult the wider school community when developing road safety guidelines and policies and then disseminate this information to families and monitor implementation;
  • Principle 2.2 - School management actively promotes road safety education by supporting staff to plan and implement road safety education within the curriculum and other school programs and initiatives;
  • Principle 2.3 - School management actively encourages staff to model appropriate road safety behaviour and attitudes consistent with the school’s road safety guidelines; and
  • Principle 2.4 - Encourage and promote school-community participation in school road safety programs.

3. Curriculum

  • Principle 3.1 - Embed road safety programs within a curriculum framework thereby providing timely, developmentally appropriate and ongoing road safety education for all year levels;
  • Principle 3.2 - School management supports teachers to effectively implement road safety education by ensuring access to available resources and professional learning opportunities;
  • Principle 3.3 - Use student-centred, interactive strategies to develop students’ utility knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivation and behaviours regarding road safety;
  • Principle 3.4 - Actively engage students in developing skills that focus on identifying and responding safely to risk situations;
  • Principle 3.5 - Provide information to parents/carers that will encourage them to reinforce and practise road safety skills developed in the classroom, in the real road environment; and
  • Principle 3.6 - Encourage students to support and influence their peers positively as a way of improving road safety behaviour.

4. School-Home-Community Links

  • Principle 4.1 - Provide parents and carers with information that will assist them to reinforce appropriate road safety messages and skills (including school guidelines and policies) at home;
  • Principle 4.2 - Provide parents and carers with practical, opportunistic and planned, on-road training for and modelling of appropriate behaviours to their children; and
  • Principle 4.3 - Establish and maintain links and involve community agencies and local government in the delivery of road safety messages that complement and support existing school road safety programs.

5. Physical Environment

  • Principle 5.1 - Review and update where necessary, in partnership with external authorities, the school road environment to encourage and support parents and carers to practise safer road safety skills.

6. School Health Services

  • Principle 6.1 - Engage, train and resource school health service staff to complement and support road safety education, programs and other initiatives in schools.

The validated and actioned principles for best practice provided to the SDERA project by the Child Health Promotion Research Centre, have been translated into a SDERA resource for use in WA schools as well as distributed to a national panel of road safety educators for use in other Australian States. It is hoped the principles of best practice will ensure the development and implementation of road safety strategies in Australian Schools will be conducted within the domains of current best practice in order to most effectively reduce the incidence of serious injuries and deaths on our roads.

Project duration


For further information about this project please contact Associate Professor Stacey Waters on or see the SDERA website for the publicly available documents.


Associate Professor Stacey Waters
Professor Donna Cross

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