Road Safety Week 2022 – are we doing enough to protect children on our roads?
It’s Road Safety Week, Brake’s biggest annual road safety campaign.
Road traffic collisions are a major cause of death worldwide, accounting for more than 1.2 million deaths. In the UK, on average five people are killed and 84 people suffer serious injuries in road traffic collisions every day.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp we are passionate about promoting road safety and that is why we decided to formalise our support for the important work that Brake does by becoming one of their Corporate Partners earlier this year and that’s why we are supporting Brake this week for Road Safety Week.
Children and road safety
Being a member of the Child Brain Injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp, and a mother of two young children, I am particularly keen to promote road safety for children.
According to government data, children under the age of 16 are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users, particularly child pedestrians who account for the majority of child casualties across all road user types. In 2021, 36 children under the age of 16 were killed and over 2,000 were seriously injured on our roads. This is shocking and unacceptable.
There are a number of reasons why children are vulnerable when using our roads, including their lack of experience in using the road compared to other road users, their size which can make it difficult for drivers to detect them, plus their underdeveloped visual perception skills which means it is difficult for them to judge the speed of oncoming cars accurately.
Children are particularly vulnerable at this time of year. The months of November, December and January are some of the months where the highest numbers of road traffic collisions are reported. More children are killed or seriously injured on their way home from school rather than on their way to school.
Education about road safety
What can we do to reduce the number of children killed or seriously injured on our roads? I think one of the key things is education and awareness raising among the whole population, not just with children.
I recently supported the Child Brain Injury Trust in raising awareness about their annual road safety campaign for GloWeek – “Be Seen Not Hurt” which seeks to educate children about the increased risks of road traffic accidents during the darker winter months and encourages children to wear bright clothing to increase their visibility when out and about in the community. As part of this campaign, I attended a Parliamentary drop-in session on 2 November 2022 with Lisa Turan, the CEO, and the team to raise awareness about their campaign among MPs and to seek their support. You can read more about this in my blog here.
Despite road traffic accidents being one of the main causes of death and serious injury to children of school age, road safety education is not part of the national curriculum. Many schools do take road safety seriously and seek to educate road safety through extra-curricular activities, but is that enough? The statistics suggest not. In my opinion road safety should form part of the national curriculum. Parents must also play their part in educating children about road safety and this must start at an early age.
20 mph speed limit in residential areas
In addition to education, implementation of a 20 mph speed limit in all residential streets is key in my view. If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 20mph they have a 97% chance of survival, but at 30 mph this drops to 92%. In the majority of the reports that I read from accident reconstruction experts, the accident could have been avoided if the driver was travelling at 20 mph or less. I was therefore delighted to hear the news a few weeks ago that the Senedd passed The Restricted Roads (20 mph Speed Limit) (Wales) Order 2022. Wales will be one of the first countries in the world and the first nation in the UK to introduce legislation to have a 20 mph speed limit on roads where cars mix with pedestrians and cyclists. I have already adopted this self-imposed 20 mph speed limit when driving in residential areas but I hope to see this implemented as the default speed limit in all urban areas throughout the UK.
I hope to see more diverse and far-reaching initiatives implemented in the coming year to keep our children safe on the roads.