When she joined the Imaculada Primary School in 2012, Maria de Lurdes Costa was devastated by the lack of road safety around the school. That year more than 10 children were seriously injured in road traffic crashes on their routes to and from school. Committed to improving the situation, Ms Lurdes Costa woke up early every day to assist students cross the busy road. She sent petitions to road transport authorities demanding improvements in infrastructure to better protect pedestrians around the school.
As a stop gap measure, she placed a tree trunk on the roadside to prevent vehicles coming too close to the school perimeter and injuring the school children. She also invited media to draw attention to the issue, pleading for drivers to be attentive. Over the years Ms Lurdes Costa has maintained the spot light on this issue.
To promote a culture of road safety among parents, she has included road safety as an agenda item during regular school meetings, encouraging parents to walk with their children to and from school to show them safe routes. For the past three years, she has organized visits to the school from the Traffic Police and the international NGO Amend, and their staff feature regularly on the progamme of these school meetings. In addition to awareness raising, Ms Lurdes Costa works with these groups on concrete life-saving interventions.
With the Traffic Police, she has helped train a traffic patrol team of older students who assist younger students cross the road, and this group now runs this activity on a daily basis. With Amend, she has continued to oversee improvements to the infrastructure around the school, including the installation of 30 km/h road signs, and has secured a commitment by the Traffic Police to enforce those speed limits. As a result of these initiatives, there has been a reduction in injuries around the school from more than 10 serious injuries in 2012 to 6 minor injuries in 2018. Ms Lurdes Costa is a road safety leader; her door is always open to any new road safety initiative that would help to reduce that figure to 0.