The car manufacturer promotes safer streets with this snappy side-satchel for grade-school students.

It might be a strange sight for those used to the school carpool, but Japanese children are expected to make their own way to school from a very young age. It’s not an uncommon sight to see a gaggle of kids bobbing down a walkway like a crowd of ducklings, all wearing the same tiny uniforms.

This is part of any Japanese child’s school life, and it’s intentional: parents send their children out unaccompanied with the understanding that if they get lost or make a mistake along the way, plenty of people in the community will be able to help them get back on track. It’s seen as an important stage in guaranteeing a child’s independence.

▼ You’ll see signs like this in school areas to highlight the risk of kids dashing out into the road.

However, this doesn’t negate the very real danger that comes from letting little children walk around in the roads. The way that Japanese roads are laid results in a lot of narrow pathways and tightly-packed crossings, and while there are plenty of warnings written on sign posts or on the road itself, it’s still very possible that an uninformed child might make the mistake of walking straight into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

So what to do? Well, there are road safety campaigns galore in Japan, but car manufacturer Honda has taken the issue into their own hands. They devised a special “Mamotte-tote” (Literally “Protect-Tote”) satchel that won’t just help the children holding it stand out to drivers, but teach them a little about a driver’s point of view.

The tote bag is fashioned to look like the torso of a Japanese police officer, with some extra strips of fluorescent tape added for visibility. The idea is that drivers tend to slow down automatically when they see a policeman, and those reflective strips will catch the headlights and make the children more visible in low-light areas. It’s essentially a policeman your child can wear on their arm!

But the point of the tote bag program isn’t simply to make children more luminous. Honda also provides lesson plans for road safety targeted at four-to-five-year olds, offering a more comprehensive understanding of the roads and the risk of not following safety rules.

▼ Educators can call Honda for access to worksheets, stickers and lesson plans

These lessons are cleverly incorporated into the bag itself by way of the strip of red fluorescent tape. This zone represents the potential blind spot drivers face when turning corners, an especially glaring issue for children, who are often too short to be easily noticed by drivers.

While Honda did offer the chance to apply on their website for one of these cute totes, the distribution period has ended: but this doesn’t mean that you can’t craft your own. In fact, they include instructions on the website itself.

▼ All you need is a commercial tote bag, white and red reflector tape and a sewing kit!

Here’s how to make your own Mamotte Tote:

1. Cut the reflector tape to the appropriate size for your tote bag.
2. Sew the two vertical strips of white reflector tape to the bag.
3. Sew the horizontal strip of white reflector tape to the bag, across the bottom of the vertical strips.
4. Finally, sew the red strip at a diagonal angle intersecting the bottom right angle of the white strips. Done!

This is only the latest in a series of ventures by Honda to promote traffic safety, and the tote bag makes an especially cute and accessible way for children to learn the laws of the road. At any rate, it seems much more pragmatic and practical than rival company Toyota’s outside-the-box idea of wrapping everyone in bubble wrap and calling it a day.

Source: Honda Mattetote via Hachima Kikou
Insert images: Honda Mattetote

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