Reporting Back from Portugal

Reporting Back from Portugal

In late October, PRP a national road safety organization in Portugal hosted its first 18-24 Young Drivers conference. The event brought together hundreds of young people, professionals and several international road safety organizations to discuss youth road safety projects.

With the aim of gaining the participation of young people in road safety, PRP opened its doors to its 18-24 Year Old Conference on Young Drivers. A two day event, held in Lisbon opened dialogue with young people and gave them a voice to air their concerns in regards to road safety.

On day one, the event showcased the global epidemic of road traffic crashes with relation to young people. Presentations were heard from a range of professionals and offered both scientific, societal and collective explanations for the current situation. In the closing session, YOURS, Responsible Young Drivers Belgium and Tunisian ATRP shared a stage and offered concrete examples on how road safety professionals can engage young people in road safety actions. It also offered a platform for discussion on how Portuguese young people perceive the road safety problem and the problems they face as young drivers. In addition to this, a progressive approach enabled the youth to think of solutions to these problems and this took place as an informal discussion between the audience and the presenters.

On day two, active workshops were carried out by which the young people were split into 4 groups and were able to brainstorm active solutions to the road safety problems in Portugal. In the first instance, the young people identified what immediate problems Portuguese youth face on the road and subsquently, as a collective group of young people, professionals and stakeholders of road safety; produced a set of foreseeable actions that could be implemented to combat these problems. Prevalent issues that were aired in this regard were the use of drugs, alcohol, fatigue and peer pressure and active solutions involved the participation of university students, youth groups and the media.

What was unique about this conference was that solutions to the road safety problems came directly from young people. It is clear that the sharing of information is a clear tool for empowerment. The young people digested information on day one and were ready with concrete ideas for action on day two. Alongside this, it is clear that faced by young drivers in Portugal are similar to those presented at the Young Drivers Forum in Tunisia, which took place earlier this year. It is interesting that such national conference, while raising concerns that are specific to the nation in question, in fact resonate on a global level. There is clearly a continuity in road safety challenges that affect all young people regardless of border or nationality; road safety is a multi-sectoral and cross-cutting global issue.

PRP will be working closely with YOURS to develop a strong volunteering network of young people in Portugal and follow up on these ideas. In a country where civic participation is becoming a growing phenomena, PRP listened intently to the young people with a clear promise to act upon their views. This a clearly a progressive step in the involvement of young people in decision making in the field of road safety in Portugal.