Built in 1981 at a cost of $1.3 million, the Road Safety Community Park at East Coast Park has 65,000 children enter its gates annually. With over 1200 visitors a week, the 30-year-old facility has hosted over a million students to date.
The 4ha Road Safety Community Park (roughly the size of eight soccer fields) features a road safety course with corresponding traffic signs and signals. Named after their sponsors, the buildings that dot the course are built to a smaller scale (about 30 percent of their actual size) and are meant to offer users a more realistic experience.
There is, of course, no fuel at the “petrol kiosk”; neither are there curry puffs at the “7-Eleven”.
These characteristics suit the Park’s purpose as the permanent site for the annual Shell Traffic Games. Introduced by the oil giant in 1958, the Traffic Games are designed to inculcate a sense of road safety in schoolchildren by simulating traffic situations in an urban setting.
Primary Five students, who are required to participate under the school syllabus, are given the roles of motorists (in pedal cars), cyclists and pedestrians.
Students playing pedestrians have it easy (since everyone is a pedestrian in the real world), while those “driving” the pedal cars will find it challenging to steer with one hand while signalling with the other!
Each participant is assigned a specific route, to be completed within 45 minutes. In order to do well, one has to finish with as few demerit points (given for every traffic violation) as possible.
Introducing such a demerit system to kids this early is all good, but the concept might be lost on the younger ones who probably won’t be getting their driving licence for another decade or so.
The Park’s gates were finally opened to the general public in September 2010. Runners, cyclists and even in-line skaters were now allowed to enjoy the road course whose non-training days were previously reserved for schoolchildren to play there.
With the ever-increasing number of pedestrians and vehicles jostling for the limited space on our roads, the Road Safety Community Park and Traffic Games will continue to be an integral part of road safety education in Singapore for years to come.
Read more about the Shell Traffic Games