The DfT has removed an online game from a road safety website following criticism of its attempts to hammer home the helmets message to children (watch it on video below).
The "Knockin' Noggins" game, which appeared on the DfT's dedicated child road safety website talesoftheroad.direct.gov.uk operated along the lines of the fairground game 'Splat the Rat'. In this case the rats were replaced by children's heads popping up through the holes with the player scoring points by whacking the unhelmeted children with a mallet.
"Some kids don't wear cycle helmets. Teach them a lesson!" was the introductory slogan followed by the instructions: "Point and click with your mouse to hit the kids who aren't wearing helmets!". Players were awarded 10 points for splatting each unhelmeted child, while hitting helmeted children resulted in a penalty of -10.
Chris Peck from the CTC told road.cc: "The Knockin' Noggins game came out only recently. One of our members got in touch with the NSPCC and Child Accident Prevention Trust who both said this is absolutely appalling.
"If you hit a child without a helmet on their eyes go round in circles and they look stunned. The implication is we should be hitting the people without helmets. Does that mean that if you don't wear a helmet you will be injured. Evidence we have suggests otherwise. Actually, motorists may behave in a way that's more risky around you."
The CTC were preparing to issue a statement about the game on Friday but when they checked the website the game had been removed.
"It's good we managed to pull that part of the website," said Peck, "but there's still much more work needed in the way the Department of Transport treats child road safety.
"That game paints victims as being responsible for a crash when the real source of danger is drivers."
A DfT spokesperson said: “Thirteen children were killed and more than 500 seriously injured while cycling in 2007. We are working to cut this terrible toll in a number of ways, including improving the safety of our roads and investing in cycling training.
“This game was designed to encourage 6-11-year-olds to wear cycle helmets, which can be particularly effective in reducing injuries for children. The game has been removed from the website and we are considering other ways to get this important message across.”