Close to 46 000 Young People Sign Up For Safely Home Mxit App
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
On 19 January 2015, we launched our Safely Home Mxit application specifically targeted at Western Cape youth.
Traffic injury is the leading cause of death for young people aged 0- 19 in South Africa, and the aim of the application is to extend the reach of our road safety campaign to this vulnerable road user group.
The Mxit app offers an interactive platform where they can share their experiences relating to their safety on our roads. The app has to date attracted 45 547 young people (largely aged between 14 to 20 years old) since going live almost three months ago, and was chosen because it gives Safely Home access to an audience who are usually harder to reach via traditional and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
Mxit also appeals to young people from poorer communities due to its low cost and easy accessibility from a wide range of mobile devices, including old feature phones.
The content on the app mirrors the content on our website, Twitter account, the Variable Message Signs (VMS) on the freeways, and the radio and poster campaigns that we run in accordance with the Safely Home calendar.
The app is focussed primarily on giving young children advice on getting to and from school safely, as well as educating them on the dangers of drinking and driving, and drinking and walking. We also provide regular messages to our members encouraging them to stay safe on the roads, empowering them with the information they need to do so, and asking that they encourage their friends and families also to adopt a positive attitude towards road safety.
Messages on the app encourage youngsters to:
- Adopt safe pedestrian behavioural practices.
- Wear seatbelts in the front and the back seats of vehicles at all times.
- Not get into a car with a drunk driver or someone who uses a cellphone while driving.
- Be aware the role that speed plays in the frequency and severity of road crashes.
Of the close to 46 000 young subscribers to the app, 3 244 entered into a lucky draw to win R50 airtime, in which we asked them to tell us about how they get to school, and how they feel about safety on our roads. Of the thousands of entrants into the lucky draw, 10 have been awarded R50 airtime prizes. The responses were indicative of how aware young people in the Western Cape are of the dangers on our roads:
- A large proportion of the respondents walk to school, while others are mostly driven to school using various modes of private and public transport.
- One in five respondents who are driven to school felt that the person who drives them to school is not a safe driver, and a similar number believe that the vehicle they go to school in is unsafe.
- Three in five respondents confirmed that they knew someone who had been seriously injured on the road, while almost half have known someone that has been killed on the road.
- A majority of the respondents, when asked, identified drunk driving and speed as the main cause of death on our roads:
An analysis of the responses received indicates how aware young people really are of the trauma caused by reckless and irresponsible behaviour. We hope to reach more and more young people through innovative uses of technology, to help us to foster a culture of safe and responsible road use from as early an age as possible.
Educating young people about road safety is critical in changing the unacceptable behaviour seen on our roads daily, and thus to saving lives, preventing injuries and protecting our economy.