Youngsters embrace Street Smart High’s road safety message

31 October, 2022

An RAA survey of thousands of school students shows their attitudes to road safety are improving, despite some parents still setting a bad example behind the wheel.

Since 2009, RAA has surveyed tens of thousands of secondary school students who have attended its annual Street Smart High road safety event.

The most recent survey from last month’s event shows a significant improvement in youngsters’ attitudes to road safety, when comparing responses to the same questions asked in 2009.

RAA Community Engagement Senior Manager Ben Haythorpe said the long term trend in improved attitudes was very encouraging.

“I believe our survey findings show road safety education is impacting positively on students’ attitude to risk taking on our streets and will hopefully translate into a reduction in road trauma,’’ he said.

Mr Haythorpe said the surveys provided significantly good news regarding:

  • 50% said police picked on p-platers in 2009 – falling to 26% this year
  • 34% said there were too many restrictions on young drivers in 2009 – falling to 18% this year
  • 14% said it was ok to speed sometimes in 2009 – falling to 12% this year
  • 34% said it was better their first car was an old car in case they crashed it – falling to 24% this year

Mr Haythorpe said the pre and post event surveys at last month’s Street Smart High also showed a quick turnaround in students’ knowledge and attitudes.

Street Smart High 2022

“Prior to the event, only 44 per cent stated that they would “know what to do if they came across a road crash” compared with 81 per cent after the event,’’ he said

“There was also a significant shift in awareness of the consequences of road trauma, with 61 per cent admitting concern about the number of deaths of young people on the road before the event, compared to 90 per cent afterwards.’’

Mr Haythorpe said 93 drivers aged 17 to 24 had died and another 703 been seriously injured on South Australian roads in the past decade.

“Any life lost on the road is one too many,’’ he said. “This is why road safety messages need to be reinforced on a regular basis, including such annual events as Street Smart High.’’ 

Alarmingly, this year’s survey of more than 2800 SA students found 42 per cent had seen their parents/caregivers break the speed limit while driving.

And 40 per cent said they had seen their parents/caregivers’ text while behind the wheel, while 21 per cent had seen them run a red light.

“It’s vitally important parents serve as good role models when driving,’’ Ben said.

“This type of reckless and dangerous behaviour not only puts people at risk, it can also legitimise the practice among impressionable youngsters.’’

RAA surveys secondary school students across years 10, 11 and 12 as part of its annual Street Smart High event involving thousands of students over two days. More than 50,000 year 10-12 students from over 80 schools across South Australia have attended Street Smart High since it began in 2009.

The event is supported by the State Government’s THINK! Road Safety Program.