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Africa

Board game to improve road safety in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has introduced a board game to teach learner drivers about road safety and how to avoid accidents.

Learner drivers in Sierra Leone now have to buy and play a board game before they can qualifiy for a driving licence. The game is called The Driver's Way and costs about US$14 (10 euros). Play the game and you learn road safety, the authorities claim.

Morie Lengor, assistant inspector general of police in Sierra Leone and creator of the board game, told DW that he was optimistic that it would bring down the accident rate in his country.

"As a police officer I've seen so many bizarre, gruesome accidents and we are told from statistics, that it's a result of people not understanding the highway code, road signs, not respecting them and causing so many accidents," Lengor said.

When playing The Driver's Way, would-be motorists move tiny cars around the board after they roll a dice that is covered with traffic light colours instead of dots.

Players have to answer questions on traffic laws and road signs. The cars also have to pass through vehicle check points along the way, which can result in fines if a part of the car is found to be broken.

Targeting young generation

Lengor says he wanted to find a way to engage young people with road safety."I said if i could put the idea into a kind of game, which could attract them to play then it could help a lot of young people before they get to the age of 18," said Lengor.

In Sierra Leone, 18 is the minimum age for holders of a driving licence.

The Driver's Way is now seen by the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA), as boosting its efforts to bring down on road accidents and improve road safety for motorists.

The SLRTA says the game is now mandatory because of an increase in road accidents of the past few years

SLRTA staff are visiting secondary schools across Freetown to try and educate young people about road safety and they are including a demonstration of the board game in their presentation. The aim is is to persuade students to start thinking about road safety at an early age.

School children being sensitized on road safety

Road safety programs have been introduced in Sierra Leone's schools

15-year-old Sheka Kargbo heard the presentation and found it captivating.

"I think it is very nice for us that don't know how to play that game, because the board game has taught us how to use it at anytime and about road safety, so I think it is very good for me and I have gained something important from it , " said Kargbo.

Abdul Karim Dumbuya is the public relations officer for the SLRTA. He said campaigns about road safety are now crucial because of the increasing road death toll in Sierra Leone,

The roads authority recorded over 650 road accident fatalities in 2011. In 2012, the figure rose to over 700 and 2013 is not looking any better.

"Last month alone, we had over twenty people die in road traffic accidents," said Dumbuya." The month of November is the highest since the beginning of the year and we do not know what will happen in December."

He said December is the most festive season in Sierra Leone and he worries about people becoming more careless on the roads.

A game with global dimensions

The Driver's Way, which is currently being manufactured in India, requires 2-6 players and players have to pay their fines in US currency.

Lengor says the reason he used the dollar was because it was accepted in many different countries and he's hoping the game will one day be used around the world.

Sierra Leone Freetown Polizei

The authorities in Sierra Leone have been alarmed by an increase the accident rate

Countries like Ghana have already expressed interest in the game with the hope that it will also help motorists there to stay safe as well.

Lengor also hopes the game will show his fellow Sierra Leoneons that they can be inventive and creative and make a difference.

"I hope they'll walk away with inspiration," he said.Lengor has plans to introduce an online version of the game.

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