A call by Brake for 20mph speed limits to be implemented around all schools across the UK hit the headlines today, with extensive coverage on the BBC Breakfast programme.
According to a survey published by Brake, parents and carers say they don’t walk their children to school every day because roads are too busy (36%) and cars go too fast (25%). In addition, nearly two-thirds of survey respondents (64%) say their child’s school doesn’t have 20mph speed limits on all surrounding roads.
Brake says more than 110,000 children (aged 4-11 years) from more than 720 schools and nurseries are taking part in Brake’s annual Kids Walk today (14 June), campaigning for ‘safe and healthy journeys without fear or threat from traffic’.
The road safety charity points to stats which show that 11,580 children aged 15 or under were killed or injured on roads in the UK in 2021, and provisional figures for 2022 show that 48 children died on roads in the UK, or one child almost every week
Gitta Streete, headteacher at Dropmore Infant School in Buckinghamshire, said: “What we often hear back is that because no one has been seriously hurt or killed on that road, there is no need to make any changes.
“What we need is a proper, phased speed reduction system: a reduction to 20mph outside the school and safe areas for everyone to walk along and cross the road.
“Thankfully, no one has been hurt yet, but road safety measures should not be solely left to the school to enact.”
Lucy Straker, campaigns manager at Brake, says: “We speak to lots of schools where teachers are doing everything they can to make the roads near their school safe, but ultimately they need support from their local council and decision-makers. Why do we have to wait until a child is killed before we act?
“We know that excess speed is a factor in about a quarter of fatal crashes, and the physics is pretty straightforward: the faster a vehicle is travelling, the harder it hits and the greater the impact. A crash at 30mph has twice the amount of kinetic energy as a crash at 20mph. Reducing speed saves lives.
“We’re calling for roads around every school to have 20mph speed limits – and other measures to effectively reduce traffic speed – so children and their families can travel safely to and from school every day.”