The project “BMW Children’s Traffic Safety Education” by BMW Brilliance is one of the most successful programmes for traffic safety education for children in China. One teaching unit has now even made it into the Guinness World Records.
A September afternoon in Tiexi, a district of Shenyang in China: More than 1,300 primary school children gather together in the courtyard of the Eagle Experimental School. As if spellbound, their eyes are fixed on the six traffic policemen lined up in front of them, because these are about to learn traffic conducting gestures. Together with the pupils, they begin an impressive spectacle: When the policemen raise the right hand, each child imitates this within a matter of seconds. If they turn the palm of the hand outwards, the palms of more than 1,300 pupils follow suit. Palms inwards – palms inwards, hands lowered, left hand forward – hands lowered, left hand forward. The pupils seem like an enormous sea of human mirrors.
What is happening here is not a well-rehearsed choreography. The gestures the children imitate are official hand signs such as “walk”, “halt”, “turn left” or “turn right”. They are of considerable help to disseminate traffic safety knowledge and promote civilized traffic, as well as help children learn more about traffic regulations and improve their self-protection awareness. Therefore, knowing what the gestures mean is a crucial component of the road safety lesson.
However, this lesson is not just like any other: It is currently the world’s largest traffic conducting lesson unit. In addition to traffic safety education itself, setting a record like this is so important to those participating that they have come especially to the Eagle Experimental School for the second time. In the morning, the first attempt at setting the record had to be cancelled due to persistent rain. However, this time, the masterly feat is achieved without a single problem – the Guinness World Records is guaranteed.
The campaign is the preliminary highlight of the project “BMW Children’s Traffic Safety Ambassador” launched only in May of this year under “BMW Children’s Traffic Safety Education”. The project is initiated by BMW Brilliance, a collaborative partnership between BMW China and Brilliance, a Chinese automobile manufacturer. Both companies have joined forces to become BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA).
However, lessons given by traffic policemen are more of an exception as far as this initiative is concerned. Normally, the ambassador programme comprises the training of interested BMW associates, dealers and customers, and other stakeholders as traffic safety educators under the guidance of the Traffic Department of the Chinese Ministry for Public Safety: There, car dealers, car owners and other supporters receive thorough training as well as interactive instruction material. In this way, they are well equipped to swarm out, teach children and help creating a better traffic environment. After the completion of training, the ambassadors visit kindergartens, schools and communities, where they deliver children’s traffic safety knowledge and training to children and their parents with professional teaching materials.
The initiative “BMW Children’s Traffic Safety Ambassador” has since been implemented in nearly 20 cities of China. As a result, more than 70,000 children from 200 different institutions have been successfully prepared for everyday road traffic.
Moreover, the ambassador programme is part of a whole series of traffic safety education measures launched by BMW Brilliance: For example, in order to achieve greater road safety, BBA assists with teaching traffic regulations to children between the ages of four and nine also with the help of offers for improvisational theatre and role-playing games. The aim is to generally arouse greater “awareness of their own safety”.
“Our task is not only to bring first-class vehicles to the market, but also to contribute towards a better society per se with visionary thinking and innovative campaigns,” emphasises Daniel Schäfer, head of Technology and Production at BMW Brilliance Automotive.
The initiative goes down well not only with children (and their parents), but also with politicians: Shang Chengfan, Deputy Director of the Traffic Management Bureau, Liaoning Provincial Public Security Department, appreciates the support: “We are impressed with the break-throughs the ambassador project has achieved in the development and implementation of innovative instruction and learning formats. As urban traffic in China is significantly on the increase, it is essential to provide children with as much traffic safety education as possible”.