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