Department for Transport
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New online game to help tackle child road deaths

An innovative online game to help reduce the number of children killed and injured on Britain's roads was launched yesterday by Road Safety Minister Paul Clark.

'The Code of Everand' uses a virtual world to help children develop skills - such as finding a safe place to cross and planning ahead - which will help them to stay safe in the real world. 

These skills are particularly vital for children as they make the transition from primary to secondary school and start making longer journeys on their own.  Twice as many 12-year-old than nine-year-old pedestrians are hurt each year on Britain's roads and in 2008, 17 children aged 10-12 were killed on the roads while more than 2,500 were injured.

The multi-player online game is set in the fantasy land of Everand which is criss-crossed by spirit channels, inhabited by dangerous creatures.  Players are ‘Pathfinders’, the heroes of the society, who travel about the land and are trained to cross the spirit channels safely.  In a world first, the game uses real road data so players confront hazards based on the real situations that children face on the roads.

Paul Clark said:

“Our roads are among the safest in the world but the death of any child is one death too many.

“Previous THINK! campaigns have been very effective in teaching young people about road safety and the number of children killed on Britain's roads has fallen by more than 50% since the mid-1990s.  Despite this, 17 children aged 10-12 were killed while walking on Britain's roads last year and more than 500 were seriously injured.  That is why we need to continue to do everything we can to give children the skills they need to stay safe.

"Today's young people have access to more media than any before and their attitudes to communications have become much more sophisticated.  'The Code of Everand' reflects this sophistication and by communicating with children through a medium they already enjoy using we hope to improve their understanding of the importance of safe road behaviour."

Research has shown that computer games can help children develop essential skills such as logical thinking, planning ahead and cooperation. 

THINK! has taken advice from leading figures in education and gaming and has worked with renowned games specialist Area/Code to create 'The Code of Everand'. 

In addition to running THINK! campaigns to give children the skills they need to keep safe on the roads the Government is also investing £140m in the Travelling to School project and another £140m in cycling.  This includes funding for an extra 500,000 10- year-olds across England to take part in Bikeability cycle training.

Notes to editors


 The Code of Everand can be found at http://codeofeverand.co.uk/

  1. THINK! runs road safety campaigns aimed at improving child road safety including the 'Tales of the Road' adverts  http://talesoftheroad.direct.gov.uk/
  2. In 2009 THINK! also launched a road safety education website with resources and information about road for parents, guardians and educators.
  3. A new THINK! campaign aimed at teenagers is in development and is expected to launch in 2010.
  4. The Government funds Bikeability training to give children the practical skills to stay safe when cycling  - for more information see  http://www.bikeability.org.uk/.
  5. DfT research found that the majority of children aged 10-12 are well versed in road safety theory they do not put it into practice (Firefish qualitative research 2008).
  6. Statistics from the National Travel Survey (2006) suggest that children are not given the opportunity to put the theory they know into practice because until the age of 11 children are accompanied on journeys by a parent or are passengers in a car. From the age of 11 children want more freedom (Murmur research 2007) and begin making frequent independent journeys (NTS 2006).
  7. DfT research shows that, while more traditional communications activity will continue to be important in conveying messages about good road safety, there is a problem with behaviour, rather than just knowledge that needs to be addressed (Firefish 2008).
  8. According to Youth TGI research (2009) 99.4% of 10 to 12- year-olds play online games or console games, and 77.8% play online games.
  9. A report on games and learning for Becta (the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) identified ‘Thinking skills – reasoning, enquiry, creative thinking, evaluation on actions, devising strategies, considering options, taking rational decisions...Thinking logically, planning ahead and considering the impact of a range of factors’ as key learnings that young people take from games.

 

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