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Nine out of 10 say motorists drive too fast

One in 10 children say that the have been hit by a vehicle while walking or cycling and perhaps not surprisingly nine out of 10 children think that motorists drive too fast are two of the finding from a survey of 15,531 9-13 year-olds carried out for the road safety charity Brake.

Among the survey's other findings, which were released to mark the start of Road Safety Week, were that 56 per cent of the children polled said they had experienced a near miss while walking or cycling while 64 per cent think that the roads around their home or school are dangerous for walking or cycling.

Campaigners used the statistics, released as part of Road Safety Week (22-28 November), to call for a reduction in the speed limit to 20mph in areas around schools and residential areas, which they say will improve safety for children out cycling or walking. “All drivers have a part to play in making our roads safer for children, and one of the best ways we can do this is to slow down to 20mph or below around schools or homes,” said Joel Hickman, Brake’s campaign officer.

Commenting on the survey Julie Townsend, campaigns director at Brake, said: “For a society that places so much importance on the safety and wellbeing of our children, it is shocking and unacceptable that so many children die and suffer appalling injuries on our roads. Many more children are prevented from having healthy, happy lifestyles because of the threat of fast traffic stopping them from getting out and about. One of the best ways we can protect our children is by slowing down to 20mph when driving in communities – this simple step means you have a good chance of being able to stop in time if a child runs out in front of you, and it helps to make our communities safer, greener and more family-friendly.”

The UK has made significant strides in improving road safety over recent years, and it currently has the second lowest overall road death rate in the EU. However, its child pedestrian death rate is still eight times Sweden’s; lowering vehicle speed is central to addressing this. “If you do [reduce your speed], you have a good chance of being able to stop in time if a child runs out in front of you,” pointed out Hickman.

Calls for a change in the speed limit in residential areas are lent further weight by research due to be published in the journal Psychological Science. which road.cc  reported on earlier this week the work of vision scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London, which showed that children aged 6-11 are unable to accurately assess the speed of vehicles travelling at more than 20mph, while adults are able to judge speeds of up to 50mph.

The design of residential streets has a big impact on vehicle speeds, John Punter, Professor in Design at Cardiff University, told Wales Online, great strides have been made over the last ten years in terms prioritising the interests of cyclists and pedestrians. “In 2007 the Government published the Manual for Streets, which revolutionised the design of residential streets, particularly in new developments,” he commented.