PACTS calls for co-ordinated approach to children’s safety

11.17 | 17 September 2010 | | 1 comment

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) has published a paper calling for a more co-ordinated approach to the safety of children and young people.

The report, ‘Perceptions and Realities’, builds on work presented at a PACTS seminar by professor Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University.

At the seminar Professor Pritchard highlighted the disparity between the success in reducing child deaths in the UK (30 years ago the UK was the fourth highest in the Western world; now it is the third lowest) compared to the continuing cumulative death and injury toll arising from road traffic.

Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, said: “In times of economic uncertainty, it is all too easy to engage in special pleading.

“However, it is important to recognise that road traffic accidents represent the biggest single cause of non-natural death among children and young people aged one to 19. They represent a particularly high risk for males aged 14 to 19.

“Tackling this imbalance requires a co-ordinated approach. This can be done through better application of policy such as the Total Place initiative, more effective structures, joint appointments for child safeguarding (as in Bradford) and specific interventions such as 20mph zones.

“Our overwhelming priority must be to protect our children and young people. Reducing risk to them on the roads should be a key part of the child safeguarding agenda.”

The report can be downloaded from the PACTS website.


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    As I am sure Professor Pritchard and Rob Gifford are aware, the police were responsible for road safety education for children until the mid-Seventies. It was then devolved to local authorities on the premise that the police are enforcement officers and not educators. A sound point I feel. Initially, local authorities embraced their new responsibility with vigour. Over the last 35 years this has been maintained in some administrations whilst, in many others, it has melted into total apathy. In the last 15 years, whilst I have been in local government, I have noticed with sorrow road safety units being dismantled or absorbed into other departments with different agendas and talented road safety officers reduced in status to ‘also-rans’. As with the report from Professor McKenna earlier this week, it is not essential to tell road safety officers what is transparent, but if the work of academics can be used to reverse the decline then let us lubricate that mechanism. Equally, if lobbying groups such as PACTS have a contribution that would be helpful, let us welcome their assistance. However, age is making me sceptical, for I fear that, be he university professor or lobbyist, all we are marketing is hot air.

    Roy Buchanan, Sutton
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