Kids march to raise road safety awareness
More than 100,000 kids from across the UK will take to their streets today to raise awareness of the 39 children who are killed or injured on roads in England every day.
Youngsters aged between four and 11 are taking part in Brake's Kids Walk, in partnership with Co-op Insurance. This national project is helping them call for key measures to make roads safer, so that more children can enjoy the health and planet-saving benefits of walking.
To coincide with the launch of the walk, road safety charity Brake has highlighted the true extent of child casualties on the nation's roads.
Latest Department for Transport (DfT) figures1 show that 14,273 children were killed or injured on roads in England in 2016. On average, 39 children die or suffer injuries as a result of road crashes every single day. That's the equivalent of a classroom full every day.
The South East has the greatest number of child road casualties (2,343 a year), while the North East has the fewest (702 a year). The region that sees the most child road deaths is the North West, with 15 children killed on the region's roads in 2016.
More than 100,000 children from more than 500 schools and nurseries are taking part in Brake's Kids Walk, calling for five key measures to help keep them safe: footpaths, cycle paths, safe places to cross, slow traffic and clean traffic.
Among those taking part are 450 pupils from Carr Hill Primary School in Retford, Nottinghamshire. The school is running a week of road safety activities in memory of pupil Seth Bartle, 10, who died after he was hit by a car outside the school in January. The school is encouraging more families to walk to school, to ease congestion and parking issues at the school gate. And to assist those families who drive, pupils have created a map showing walking routes from roads further away from the school.
Short, supervised walks are taking place today and all week at or around schools and nurseries. Children will walk in a crocodile formation and hold hands to highlight the importance of being able to walk without fear or threat from traffic. Some schools are teaming up with their local fire service or police.
Schools can also run special road safety-themed assemblies, lessons and activities, using resources provided for free by Brake and Co-op Insurance. The event can be used to fundraise for Brake, which supports families who have lost loved ones in road crashes.
Dave Nichols, community engagement manager for Brake, the road safety charity, said, 'It is every child's right to be able to walk in their community without fear of traffic and pollution. But many kids are unable to do so because they don't have access to simple measures such as footpaths, cycle paths and safe places to cross. Many more have to contend with fast traffic and pollution from vehicle emissions. If we want more children and their families to walk, then we need to make sure their journeys are safe. We're delighted that so many schools and children across the UK agree with us on this and are taking part in Brake's Kids Walk. Together we can raise awareness about the issues that matter to them and help make their roads safer.'
Nick Ansley, head of motor insurance at the Co-op said, 'To see so many children taking part in this event, and promoting road safety is fantastic. Our aim is to help keep communities safe and so it's great to be involved in an initiative which is doing just that.
'Every school across the UK faces different issues, whether it be available footpaths, safe places to cross, or cycle paths. In partnership with Brake, we're hoping to raise awareness among all road users to help ensure communities are kept safe.'
Vanessa Smith, parent link teacher at Carr Hill Primary School in Retford, said, 'While we encourage people to walk to school, many of our families do live some distance away and so our emphasis is on safe and considerate parking outside the school, encouraging people to think about moral responsibility to each other and the children at dropping-off and picking-up time. We are asking people to walk where they can or, if they must drive, then to park a little further away and increase their footsteps. We hope the pupils will go home and encourage their grown-ups to park further away then walk.'
Stella Scharinger, headteacher at Finberry Primary School in Kent, said, 'We are really looking forward to taking part in Brake's Kids Walk as we passionately support the drive to ensure that all children can walk and travel in safety, with safe roads and footpaths in every community.'
Iris Smith, high-level teaching assistant at Penshurst Primary School in Hessle, Hull, said, 'At Penshurst we are committed to keeping our children safe on the roads. We feel that taking part in this walk will highlight the dangers around our school and hope this will make others aware of the situation and be more considerate on the road in the future to protect our children.'
Rachel Dungate, sustainability coordinator at The Woodside Academy in Croydon, London, said, 'Children and staff can't wait to get walking. Each class is aiming to walk a marathon between them. It is great to encourage the children to be active and to support a fantastic charity too. It gives us the opportunity to learn not only about the benefits of being active but about road safety as well.'