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The new ‘Local Road Safety Index’ – could AXA’s commitment to road safety have been better channelled?

Friday 30th August 2013

A new interactive road safety tool, produced by AXA Car Insurance in partnership with Road Safety Analysis, shows that more than half-a-million collisions have taken place on local roads around UK schools in the past six years.

AXA says that Britain’s first Local Road Safety Index has been launched to “help parents better understand the risks associated with the roads around their local schools to keep their children safe”.

The data, relating to the 500-metre radius around UK schools, can be broken down by local authority, region and city.

It shows that during the five years 2006-2011, there has been a total of 557,200 vehicle collisions within 500m of a school which, on average, equates to seven collisions per school per year. It also shows that 37% of local school areas have had at least one child casualty each year, while 5,831 schools (20%) have reported no child casualties in the past six years. The collisions have resulted in 85,814 fatal, seriously injured and slightly injured child casualties, representing one child casualty in every six collisions.

James Barclay of AXA Car Insurance, said: “Child road safety is of paramount importance to everyone in Britain so the more that can be done to understand the facts, and therefore adapt infrastructure or education methods, the better. The Local Road Safety Index is a big step towards being able to truly understand how the infrastructure within local areas around schools needs to be developed to make roads safer for children.”

However, while welcoming AXA’s interest in road safety, Road Safety GB is questioning the value of the new tool – and points out that Road Safety GB is not part of the ‘coalition’ behind the project, as referred to in the media release produced by AXA’s PR agency.

Honor Byford, vice chair of Road Safety GB, said: “It’s great that AXA are taking an interest in road safety and we whole heartedly applaud their enthusiasm and commitment to this project. However, we wonder whether their efforts could have been better channelled?

“The data referred to in this road safety index is already available to local authority road safety teams and can be called up with a few clicks of a mouse.

“Also, the data relates to all collisions, most of which (83% in fact) will not have involved a child. For the tool to be really useful for schools and parents more detailed information about child casualties is required, such as the age of the child, time of the collision and whether it occurred during term time.

“For those interested in road safety around schools, there is an existing website, www.schooltravelfacts.com, which has a downloadable road safety map showing school location, collisions and walking/cycling thresholds for every registered school in the country. There is also the DFT's Road Safety Comparison website where local data is provided and comparisons between local authorities can be made.

“As road safety officers working for local authorities we already have access to this information and should be using it in our work. Every Local Highway Authority already analyses crash and casualty data to identify the highest risk sites and routes, in order to prioritise engineering work to where the need or risk is greatest.


“We strongly support and promote road safety education for children throughout their childhood, from pre-school to learning to cycle and then drive safely.

“We believe that providing children and young people with the information and skills they need to use the roads safely throughout their lives is the best investment we can make. This is the important task for which our profession, parents, teachers, other agencies and society at large share responsibility.”

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I agree with Bob Craven's first point but his second reminds me of the ideas/inventions that crop up from time to time for leaving less residue in containers - whether toothpaste, jam or whatever. The inventors hoping to sell the ideas to the manufacturers don't seem to realise that manufacturers prefer customers not to be able to use all the product so that they have to buy more.

Similarly, if car crash claims fell, profits would rise and competition would force premiums down to the same margins as before. That is the way business works and the way business competes.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)
-1

Two things come to mind.

1) If one was to look at any town map and draw rings of some 500 mtrs around any and all schools there wouldn't be much space left outside those circles. I would say some 90% plus of most towns would be covered.

2] I would love for more involvement from all insurance companies, they are in medicines and football and cricket and other sports, why not spend some of their profits on road safety? After all do they not have to pay out millions in compensation claims following an incident/collision/accident. It would be in their interest to have the number of claims lowered.

If they all put monies together just think of the ways in which we could all spend it.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (12) | Disagree (1)
+11

An area where AXA - or the motor insurance industry collectively - could help with road safety, is to help with those elusive ‘unreported’ accidents – the ones which are not reported to the Police and do not form part of official statistics. Taking the 500m circle referred to as an example, it would be an interesting exercise to compare the number of accidents which appear on the official STATS19 derived figures with those the motor insurers are aware of through claims and see what, if any, is the difference.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (20) | Disagree (1)
+19

I share the caution expressed in comments here about AXA's motivation - all to frequently these days we see reports whose purpose seems to be to get company names in the media without having to pay for advertising. The report is about "collisions" - is that "injury" collisions or all collisions?

Some years ago when Brake launched a campaign about road safety near schools, Richard Brunstrom said on the Jimmy Young Show that in fact there are very few accidents near schools.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (15) | Disagree (8)
+7

It looks as though AXA just jumped into this - possibly to gain a bit of kudos and - dare I say it - some publicity, without first taking advice on whether it is actually needed or in any way beneficial.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (24) | Disagree (0)
+24

Honor's comments are spot on. If road safety units do not already have this information and are not consequently putting plans of action in place to tackle their problems areas there is something far wrong.

I am at a loss to see how studies of this nature are beneficial, the corporate support of road safety would be much more effective if channelled in other areas nationally into tried and trusted intervention programmes that will make a difference.
name withheld

Agree (39) | Disagree (0)
+39