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Fieldwork: Investigating traffic issues

investigating traffic issues - yellow road bumps


Traffic is an issue everywhere these days, but it can provide ideal situations for pupils to investigate, discuss and provide thoughtful resolutions to local problems.

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Length of time

Half a day.


Suitable locations

Main streets, residential areas, most streets have their own specific issues with traffic.


Equipment needed

A camera to take pictures which can be linked to a local map back in the classroom.



  1. To observe and identify traffic issues in the area.
  2. To identify ways in which traffic is being managed.
  3. To consider how effective present controls are and make suggestions as to how improvements can be added.


Key skills

  • observation techniques
  • recording information
  • carrying out research
  • discussing and identifying solutions.


Other curriculum links

  • Match historic images of the local area with those of the present day to see changes which have taken place.
  • Design traffic awareness posters for the school gates.


Suggested delivery

Before going out discuss what type of issues might be found. What is the pupils’ experience of traffic and what possible problems they are aware of.

In the fieldwork area:

  • pupils identify and record the issues regarding traffic
  • are these being controlled and if so, how?
  • if not – what would be a good method to use?

Pupils can be given a free choice to decide how these might be dealt with or can be provided with a list of options which might include:

  • traffic wardens – school crossing officers
  • pedestrianised areas
  • road humps (sleeping policemen) speed bumps, chicanes
  • yellow lines – white zig zag lines to limit parking times
  • road closures, cul de sacs, no through roads. no entry roads
  • restricted speed zones e.g. 20 miles an hour speed limit
  • a by-pass.

Take pictures of some of the ways in which traffic control has been observed, these can be discussed back in class as to how well they work. What effect do they have on traffic flow/speed? Images can be added to a local map. Are some areas more affected than others?

If the traffic issues are significant and there are few ways of controlling them at present, which of the options would work best in the area? A class vote following discussion.

If traffic is not controlled what are the possible outcomes for the area?

Sometimes local authorities introduce timed parking in streets near transport hubs, but this often squeezes traffic parking further out onto residential streets.

Is this happening in your area? How do the pupils feel they can make their voices heard and share their ideas about what is needed?


Potential risks to consider

Care needs to be taken in choosing observation places especially as the pupils are venturing into traffic filled areas.

Small groups are easier to manage and can be moved around as needed.


Possible follow up activities

Invite a speaker into the classroom to discuss the issues. The local authority is usually responsible for roads in local urban areas and the County Council has responsibility for major routes. Speakers could include a community police officer, local authority planning or transport officer, school crossing patrol officer.


Useful links#

Manual for Streets 1 and 2 – SoRSA Conference – This set of slides provides some useful information and images about streets and traffic. It also refers to two other documents Manual for Street 1 and 2 which may also be of help.


This collection of Fieldwork activities were created by Paula Richardson and the Fieldwork and Outdoor Learning Special Interest Group (FOLSIG) for the National Festival of Fieldwork, the GA invites everyone to take part during the summer term.




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