GEM issues back to school road safety warning

12.00 | 31 August 2017 | | 3 comments

GEM Motoring Assist is urging parents and children to make safety their number one priority on journeys to and from school.

With the new school year beginning next week, GEM says it’s vital that everyone – from toddler to senior citizen – is aware of the risks associated with using the roads.

GEM points to statistics which show that more than 130 children die and another 4,500 are seriously injured every year while cycling or walking on the UK’s roads. Further to that, 20% of all child injuries occur on school journeys.

In a press release issued on Wednesday (30 August), the road safety charity published a series of tips for parents as the new school year begins.

These include encouraging children to wear hi-vis clothing, respecting speed limits and school crossing patrols, and not parking on zig-zag lines.

GEM is also encouraging parents to find out about any local safe walking initiatives that may operate at their child’s school.

Neil Worth, GEM road safety officer, said: “Every child needs to learn how to use the roads safely, whether walking or cycling, and later when driving. But road accidents remain a leading cause of accidental death for children.

“That’s why it is so important for us all to take responsibility – not just for our own safety but for the safety of any children who share the roads with us – and find ways to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries.

“So as another school year begins, we encourage all parents, guardians, teachers, carers and older siblings to play their part in helping children to use the roads with respect, to recognise the risks they face and to understand effective ways of minimising those risks.”

Category: Children.



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    Whilst I share Charles’ desire for a more equitable hierarchy between all road users, it is a fact that vehicles do go faster than pedestrians and that, in the event of a collision, the pedestrian is likely to come off worst.

    Add to that the fact that children take years of practice to learn the skills and acquire the developmental abilities to be able to judge speed and distance and to anticipate the likely moves of driven vehicles.

    This being so, we have a duty to prepare and equip our children to travel safely within the existing environment. Education and training is not blaming children and turning them into victims: it is the responsible and sensible thing to do. Let’s stop using this emotive “victim-blaming” thing in order to pursue other agendas (however laudable) when the side effect is to fail to prepare our children for the environment they live in and that we have created for them.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
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    I would imagine though Charles that as one drives away from the centre of Looe, that informal interaction at very low speeds evaporates and it is business as usual on the roads. That unique scenario will only work in a few locations – no doubt after a lot of changes to the environment and a lot of expense. Drivers will no doubt go along with that scenario up to a point, but then would get frustrated and impatient to make progress.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Here we go again – blaming the children themselves and, to some extent, drivers, for child road casualties on our community streets. When will we learn that the main problems are: 1) the way we brainwash children to kowtow to road traffic – which has the effect of preconditioning them to disrespect pedestrians when they become drivers, b) the priority system we have enshrined in our road system design – which makes the road traffic with priority go faster at exactly the places where ideally it would be going slower (road junctions, pedestrian crossings, between parked cars, wherever there is a footway, on roundabouts, …).

    Time for change on these street types? 1) abolish the road priority system and remove all priority controlling traffic signals, road signs and road markings, and stop roads from looking like race tracks, 2) teach children that they have the same priority, on all parts of the highway, as all other road users – they can cross where they like, when they like.

    The evidence that this will work is in the towns and villages that have narrow and twisty roads with uneven surfaces and that have no footways. The example I have given before is the main street in Looe, Cornwall; where drivers do not exceed 5 or 6 mph and pedestrians mingle in harmony with cars, vans, bicycles and even lorries on the main road. Sure there will be the odd “coming together”, but at the (natural and unenforced) low traffic speeds involved, there is unlikely to be serious injury or damage.

    Charles, England
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