Taking advantage of the Spring Break, the 6th edition of the “Brisa Student Drive Camp” took place this year in Castelo Branco, between the 8th and 12th of April, in which participated 50 students.
The initiative is part of a project launched by Brisa, the largest private road operator in Portugal, named “Youth Capital of Road Safety”, which rotates between the country’s district capitals and has already been in Leiria, Porto, Aveiro, Viseu and Braga, with the aim of engaging the young people in road accident risk prevention and road safety.
This year, the initiative was attended by 50 students between the ages of 16 and 25 years old, who went through a selection process, following the online registration period. According to Franco Caruso, Brisa’s Director for Sustainability, the idea is to bring these young people (both high school and college students) to totally immerse themselves for a whole week, on a boarding-school regime, in the theme of the various dimensions of road safety.
By using this methodology, Brisa hopes the young people who attend the Drive Camp will become road safety ambassadors to their peers. In Brisa’s view, the best way of creating a road safety culture in Portugal is by contributing for the institution of a communication chain around this theme. The company has adopted this strategy over more than a decade so that a better understanding of this problem by youngsters may be implemented.
Franco Caruso elucidates that this constitutes “a positive communication regarding the best practices and appropriate behaviour, aimed at encouraging people to be, themselves, vehicles of that communication chain, in itself”.
The executive added yet that the company turned its focus on those “two age groups that are most important: there is a formative baseline, in which the theme is approached using a programme aimed at elementary school children, from the age of 6 to 10 years old; then, there’s another age segment, which is the one encompassed by the Brisa Student Drive Camp, that we may call as the pre-drivers or the recently provided with a driver’s license”.
Young people between the age of 16 and 25 years old are considered a very important segment, because, in many cases, they’re individuals who are beginning to gain autonomy, who become independent from the age of majority onwards. And, in Brisa’s view, you cannot reach these young
people through a prescriptive communication, but by engaging them in this cause, and earning their commitment in it, through their daily behaviour, so that they become, themselves, a reference to their counterparts, because those are age ranges very sensitive to peer examples and messages.
Brisa Student Drive Camp’s weekly programme includes a diverse set of experiences, as well as information sessions and debates. This way, it provides tools to the young people and promotes their interaction.
Brisa’s Director for Sustainability stresses the need of “listening to their ideas on road safety and, in a way, of making them feel that they have a mission to fulfil in the communities where they live or among the groups with which they interact, in the sense of spreading the word and contributing for this road safety culture that the country is seeking, and which constitutes a very central task, from a social point of view”.
Since its launching, more than 300 youth have taken part in this initiative, and the company’s aim is to create, possibly still in 2019, a Brisa Student Drive Camp “alumni” event, to follow-up the participant students in the years after the camp, but also to examine their potential to leverage the deeds achieved in the last six years.
The “alumni” event will probably take place in the last quarter of the year, given that it will involve a school age population, and it is expected to be associated with some kind of joint initiative with the schools and universities.