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An unusual tool that Australian group hopes will save young lives
Stickers on "wheelie bins" in Australia remind drivers to slow down and watch for children. - photo by Lois M Collins
The Australian Road Safety Foundation has launched an unusual community-based campaign to save young lives.

Residents are being encouraged to purchase a sticker featuring a life-size image of a child to place on their household garbage bins (they call them "wheelie bins") as a visual reminder to drivers that children might step into the street at any time while they're playing and distracted.

A release announcing the campaign says, "According to research from the Bureau of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Queensland road fatalities rose from 223 deaths in 2014 to 242 deaths in 2015. This reversed a three-year trend in which the number of national road fatalities had been declining." It noted that a big chunk of those deaths took place in daylight and involved cars on surface streets, where children might dart into traffic.

"We believe these stickers have the potential to have a real impact on our roads," said foundation CEO Russell White.

"We have seen some very effective road safety campaigns in recent years that highlight the danger that speeding poses to children crossing streets," White said. "The 'Life Saving' sticker campaign builds on this education process by providing a real-time reminder to motorists to reduce their speed."

"It is hoped drivers have an emotional reaction to the stickers, and think of the reality of a child running out onto the road," wrote Mashable's Johnny Lieu in a post about the campaign.

In the United States, many efforts have been made to teach children road safety and to remind drivers to be careful as well. For example, the National Center for Safe Routes to School (NCSRTS) at the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center used funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to produce a "Safe Routes to School Guide" for parents and caregivers that focuses on how to teach kids to walk and play safely.

"Just as teenagers must first practice judgment and skills with an adult present and in simple traffic conditions, children need help learning and practicing where and how to walk safely," the guide says. "To help children become safe walkers, adults must look at the world of traffic from a childs point of view and have an understanding of how childrens abilities to learn and reason develop over time. This guide is intended to help parents and caregivers match their guidance and expectations with their childrens abilities."

Safe Kids Worldwide says that "developmentally, kids cannot judge speed and distance of approaching vehicles until age 10." And it notes that 80 percent of child-pedestrian deaths take place away from intersections.

There's no indication proponents of the Australian campaign are worried people will get so used to seeing images of children running into the street that they may not notice when a real boy or girl does so.
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