Petition calls for road safety education in National Curriculum

12.00 | 15 February 2016 | | 10 comments

A petition has been launched calling on the Government to introduce road user education into the National Curriculum.

The petition has been created by David Barf (pictured), a roads policing inspector with North Yorkshire Police, who hopes to raise awareness of the issue so that it appears firmly on the Government radar.

Road Safety GB is supporting the petition and urging road safety practitioners to read and sign it as soon as possible.

The petition points to World Health Organisation figures which show that 1,700 people died on the UK roads in 2014, while in the same period 300 people drowned. It says: ‘We address water danger by teaching swimming in schools, yet there is nothing formalised in relation to road user education. Help us change this and save lives’.

Running for six months until  5 August 2016, the petition requires 10,000 signatures for a Government response. At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Inspector Barf, who works in the North Yorkshire Police Major Collision Investigation Unit, says he was prompted to start the petition by a desire to create a ‘groundswell of support’.

He said: “At present road safety education is left to individual local authorities, partnerships and charities who do their level best to get the message home.

“Sadly though, these stakeholders compete with others for school and college time and access to students often comes down to personalities and relationships, creating a post code lottery.

“It is fair to say that a vast majority of those passing through our education system will use the country’s roads. At present we put 16 and 17-year-olds onto the road with a basic level of knowledge.

“My petition is aimed at gaining Government recognition that saving lives on our roads should be given central support  to get the time required in all schools by placing this important area of life skill into the National Curriculum.  

“All of us who are involved in this area and deal with tragedy every day want to prevent needless loss of life. I am convinced that early intervention and education can do that. After all, we don’t send students to university without first sending them to school.”

Honor Byford, chair of Road Safety GB, said: “The sentiment in David’s petition is fully supported by Road Safety GB.

“Road safety professionals constantly strive to provide road user education in their local schools and colleges and parents tell us this is what they want for their children. But this offer is frequently declined for any number of reasons including restricted curriculum time, competing offers and on occasion a lack of interest from teaching staff. 

“Defined minimum outcomes – the things a child should know by the end of each key stage – in every child’s education would ensure that all young people are taught what they need to know when they need to know it, so they can travel safely and develop their independence appropriate to their age and development. We would include Bikeability training within this curriculum. 

“I would urge all practitioners to read and sign this petition as soon as they can, then please share it with your various partnerships, with parents and other organisations you are connected with for their support.”


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    There are so many ways in which road safety issues can be brought into the curriculum without it being a mandatory requirement competing with other subjects. In maths for instance using casualty data as examples when teaching statistics etc, in geography carrying out route studies or surveys – I could go on and in fact I think I will do! What about as a topic for guided discussion in Form Groups or RE or PSHE or whatever it is called today?

    I think the key is to getting examples like that into a teacher’s lesson plan so that it does not add to the already hectic workload that they have. I’m sure that a bit of variety in lessons would help make subjects appear to be more relevant to the “real world” as the children grow up. Who out there understands what an 85th percentile is? Could these lesson plans and discussions then become sufficient to meet any future mandatory requirements?

    Finally and in no way meant as a criticism, it does make me smile when I read a sentence like “a vast majority of those passing through our education system will use the country’s roads”. Apart from those unfortunate enough never to leave the building in which they were born I would say 100% will have been on the road network at some point in their lives!

    Nick, Lancashire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Gordon – there is a link in the story above, but here it is:

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Where is this petition? Where can we sign?

    Gordon Finlay, Co. Down N.I.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I believe the French have road safety in the curriculum at each key stage and on completion of all 4 stages a young adult can get on the road as a driver earlier. Am still waiting for confirmation of this from French Embassy but if TISPOL members can help get info I would appreciate that.

    Peter City of Westminster
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I can confirm that the aim behind the petition is to consider education at all ages as per the key stage learning outcomes mentioned by Honor. The basis of this being building experience of being on/around the roads and what can happen. My simple view on this is the earlier we begin this education the more chance we give to assimilate the information and benefit from it.

    That a similar petition has been tried before should not deter us from trying again. We know the potential value of this. I will continue to support and work towards this for as long as I am able. If I fail it will not be for want of trying.

    David Barf
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I would definitely support road safety ed being a national curriculum item in both primary and secondary schools. It would certainly help access to secondary schools in particular where it is often difficult to find time for non national curriculum subjects. Human rights issue it obviously is, but I’m not so keen on going the extra step to make it a LEGISLATED human rights issue.

    Pat, Wales
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    Its interesting that Inspector Barf says “At present we put 16 and 17-year-olds onto the road with a basic level of knowledge.” My children were “put onto the roads” at the age of 8 when they walked to school, and there are millions of parents across the country who want their children to feel and be safe walking to school. I wonder therefore if Inspector Barf is referring to motorised road user when he talks about “road user education” before 16 or 17 year olds go onto the roads.

    I note that Honor assumes that the petition applies to younger children and Bikeability. This, I thoroughly approve of as it asserts the child’s right to cycle (and walk) on the roads and through enabling walking and cycling by teens develops the spatial acuity that so many lack when and if they do drive due to their dependence upon parental motorised transport. It would help if the petition could clarify this.

    I do however welcome the North Yorks enforcement agency looking for national standardisation and removing post-code lotteries on road safety. Whereas we have a National Police Chiefs Council and DfT endorsing the “routine enforcement” of 20mph limits in North Yorks the police have refused to do so and thereby give support to non-compliers.

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us
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    You are correct, Peter, but we were not made aware of the earlier petition – if we had been we would have supported and promoted it. I can’t see from the website who originated that petition but would like to hear from them if anyone knows?

    However, the principle is still sound and we will support this petition. I would hope all those who signed the earlier one will also sign this one and many more besides. If the idea is right, we need to keep trying.

    Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Has this not already been done and failed with less than the 10,000 signatures.

    Closed petition
    Save lives by introducing driving and road safety into the school curriculum

    We should train young people to understand road safety and hazard perception at a younger age. This lifesaving training should begin at school as a part of every child’s curriculum.

    A quarter of all 15-19 year olds who die are killed in cars and a fifth crash within 6 months of passing their test.

    Every year 400 people die on UK roads in young driver accidents. 100,000 signatures could help save those precious lives.

    Research shows that road safety messages are better absorbed by children in their early teens. Pilot studies in Europe show a 40% reduction in accidents for those who train at school. Independent UK research on pre-17 driving lessons shows pupils have 50% less accidents.

    We don’t want to change the driving age – only the age we start teaching children to drive safely.

    This petition is closed
    All petitions run for 6 months
    5,365 signatures

    Peter City of Westminster
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Let’s go one step further. I would like the government to make road safety education a Human Right.

    Within the Human Rights Act there is the right to life and the right to education. The Human Rights Act requires the government to protect human life. This means that nobody – including the government – can try to end your life. It also means that you have the right to be protected if your life is at risk. Similarly, public authorities should consider your right to life when making decisions that might put you in danger or which affect your life expectancy. If a member of your family dies in circumstances that involve the state, you may have the right to an investigation. The important words are “You have the right to be protected if your life is at risk”.

    Right to education
    Everybody has the right to an effective education.
    Parents also have a right to ensure that their religious and philosophical beliefs are respected during the children’s education.

    The right to education does not give you the right to learn whatever you want, wherever you want.
    The courts have ruled that the right to education relates to the education system that already exists. It does not require the government to provide or subsidise any specific type of education.
    The government is allowed to regulate the way education is delivered. For example, it can pass laws making education compulsory or imposing health and safety requirements on schools.
    School admission policies are permissible so long as they are objective and reasonable.
    Although parents have a right to ensure their religious or philosophical beliefs are respected during their children’s education, this is not an absolute right. So long as these beliefs are properly considered, an education authority can depart from them but only if there are good reasons for doing so and it is done in an objective, critical and pluralistic way.
    Again the important words are “the right to an effective education.”

    I would argue that lack of a road safety education fails children in that we know that their lives are at risk and to keep them safe we need an effective education covering their modes of travel to them and to the general public.

    This would be a major step towards a national curriculum.

    Peter City of Westminster
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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