Survey of 15,000 school children finds 1 in 10 say they've been hit by vehicle

Nine out of 10 say motorists drive too fast

by Patrick Truss   November 26, 2010  

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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.

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Research on vision also supports the fact that when driving the peripheral 'awareness' diminishes as speed increases. In other words the faster you are travelling the more your field of vision narrows to a tunnel focussed on the road in front and the more you need to relay on assisting features such as lane markings, tight signals, and 'control' of other vehicles/living things to prevent collisions. That is one reason that railway tracks have fences and a very rigidly managed signalling system where red light jumping is fully recorded and investigated. Perhaps we might ask why this isn't done for roads - or would the volume of reports simply be too great.

But to return to 20mph as default speed - Ben Hamilton Baillie did a lot of work in this area and at 20mph not only are kids more likely to be aware of their surroundings but drivers are also observing more of the street around them. Ever noticed how passengers manage to spot more of the wildlife and scenery when you are driving? Oh and how you naturally slow down to around 20mph when looking for a destination

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [470 posts]
26th November 2010 - 11:56

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This is the report I mentioned in another post 'cept I was just finished a nightshift, cycled 7 miles in -3 and my brain was numb when I heard it while pouring hot tea into me Big Grin But i got most of it right!

This must be enough to have our urban areas switched to 20mph zones. i have no idea how enforceable this would be, but something drastic needs to be done to make the streets safer for kids! Sadly though motorist brigade will have a rant about their civil liberties being abused for having to add 60 seconds onto a 1 mile journey Sad

I am pretty much in favour that when somebody injures or takes the life of a child that their license is immediately revoked and vehicle impounded until the trial or appeal Devil

It is only such draconian measures will make the roads much safer! The authorities did have the right idea in the early days by having somebody walk ahead of the vehicle with a red flag to warn others and to ensure that the vehicle moved at walking pace Laughing Maybe we should go back to that...

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posted by giff77 [1038 posts]
26th November 2010 - 17:17

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I'm afraid I don't share Julie Townsend's opinion on "a society that places so much importance on the safety and wellbeing of our children".

In my experience we live in a country that generally appears not to give a sh1t about children, except when they are either getting in the way or they have some money to spend.

The 20 speed limit thing, while well intentioned, will I expect be completely ignored and practically unenforced if it ever does come to fruition.

Finally, Prof. Punter's comments appear to be so much more of the usual hogwash that we are expected to swallow. Great strides over the last 10 years indeed? Where?? 2007 Manual for Streets? More talk, talk, talk and bugger all action.

Sorry to be negative, but Britain is a sh1tty place to be a vulnerable road or pavement-user and I see no change on the horizon.

posted by don_don [149 posts]
27th November 2010 - 20:09

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