Traffic Safety Training For Children in Albania
The traffic training school on the NG Campus is a model project - far beyond the borders of Pogradec
Albania’s first traffic training area is located on the NG Campus in Buçimas on the shore of Lake Ohrid and close to the city of Pogradec.
Between the buildings, roads meander showing painted arrows, crosswalks, traffic signs and even a miniature traffic light - we are at the traffic training circuit on the NG campus in Albania.
Here, fourth-graders learn to move safely in traffic, especially on bicycles. Not only students of the NG schools train here, but also classes from public schools all over the city of Pogradec and the surrounding villages. Every year about 600 children are enthusiastically supervised by longtime NG employee Eritan Kamolli. COVID restrictions reduced participation in the program, but NG is seeing the numbers going back up again.
In the city of Pogradec, the situation is especially difficult in summer, when there are more tourists than inhabitants crowding the streets. In recent years, much has been invested in road construction and signage, but it is still dangerous on the roads, especially for cyclists and pedestrians.
Werner Hoyer (right) supervising training together with guests from the local police.
Back in 2014, Werner Hoyer, an experienced traffic safety trainer from Germany, helped us plan the traffic training area, the first circuit of this kind in all of Albania. Now Werner comes back frequently, supported by his family and colleagues from the road safety organization Gebiets-Verkehrs-
wacht Schongau e.V.
For their outstanding road safety work and in particular the project “Accident Prevention in Albania - Helping People to Help Themselves” in Buçimas, they were recently awarded the “mobil und sicher” prize 2022 in gold, endowed with € 1,550 - a sum that will help to implement new projects and ideas.
The next target group in Pogradec is teenagers. As young people grow up and gain more autonomy, they are easily tempted to make bad choices - especially in a country where alcohol is readily available even for people under the legal drinking age of 18. For them, the group brought intoxication goggles that make it easy to get into a simulated state of intoxication and gain experience of how behavior is affected by alcohol and other intoxicants. As part of a multiplier training course, teachers from surrounding schools and employees of NG have already been familiarized with the intoxication goggles.
Intoxication goggles- a very effective tool to raise awareness.
All kinds of possibilities for using the intoxication goggles were demonstrated and, of course, intensively tested. Werner Hoyer remarks: „Everybody had fun testing the goggles, but also the seriousness of consequences caused by intoxicants in road traffic was not neglected.“ Local police, too, regularly participate in the training sessions. In the future, every high school class in Pogradec shall have the opportunity to take part in this training.
And there is also another target group: kids in kindergarten. Soon, they will learn the most important traffic rules in a playful way on the traffic training course. First lessons have already taken place and instructor training for a long-term concept is underway.
Eritan Kamolli trains fourth graders from schools in the area.
Whenever they come, Werner Hoyer and his colleagues not only bring great know-how, their suitcases are also filled with important utensils: intoxication goggles, safety vests for first graders, pens, crayons, coloring sheets and so much more.
Road safety is not only an issue in Pogradec. Increasingly, it is also a concern for public authorities, who are working to make Albania’s roads safer. Much has already been done, and the number of accidents has fallen sharply in recent years. Word of the NG Youth Traffic School model has spread as far as the capital, Tirana. There have been talks with Mrs. Rustemi, the Deputy Mayor of Tirana, and Mr. Schaefer, Transport Policy Advisor from the German GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation), and as early as October Werner Hoyer and four Verkehrswacht colleagues will start with education and safety training in Tirana.
Herolinda Shkullaku, Executive Director of NG Albania summarizes:
"This traffic education project is very important. Children in fourth grade are just at the right age for training with bicycles, they like to cooperate and show great interest. The teachers, the schools and the school authorities are also grateful for this opportunity for training.
I am glad to see a growing interest among public authorities in Albania to increase prevention and awareness of road safety."
This project has the potential to bring positive change in Albania and it will save lives.