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Published: 2009-09-23 00:00:00

Ruben the road safety bear has embarked on an exciting new adventure, with the launch of his new story book today at a function at Newstead School on the outskirts of Hamilton.

The book – which features Ruben and his friend Ari having a Big Day Out at the beach – incorporates all of Environment Waikato’s six key road safety messages for children.

"This new book is great for three to seven year olds," said Cr Norm Barker, chairman of the multi-agency Regional Transport Committee, who attended the launch along with EW chairman Peter Buckley.

"The book spells out in a very visual and clear way the key road safety messages that children should remember to keep themselves safe."

The book has been produced in English and te reo Maori and is a resource that Ruben shares with schools and pre-schools across the Waikato when he visits them to promote road safety.

"We are confident that this fresh new book – which draws together and updates all our key road safety messages for children – will be very useful in helping keep our children free from injury," said Cr Barker.

"With grandchildren of my own, I know how important it is for youngsters to receive good quality information about keeping themselves safe.

"Up to one quarter of all childhood hospitalisations are the result of a road-related trauma. As they start to move around more independently, children need to learn the basic skills to keep themselves safe in the roading environment, whether on foot, cycling, or traveling as passengers in cars."

Ruben is the mascot for Environment Waikato’s Young Road User programme which reaches out to well over 10,000 children in the region each year and promotes road safety through an age appropriate fun interactive programme, website and kids club.

Ruben’s six key road safety messages promoted in the book are:

· Be bright – dress bright

· Seat yourself right – buckle in tight

· Look about before stepping out

· Stop, look, listen and link

· Look out for sneaky driveways

· Helmets on right and tight