David Ruffley MP Is Backing Road Safety Week

Tuesday, 23 September, 2003

David Ruffley MP is calling on drivers in Suffolk to stop putting child pedestrians' lives at risk by speeding in residential areas.

David is making this plea during Road Safety Week 2003, which is raising awareness of child pedestrian deaths and injuries and the unacceptable levels of fear children experience on a daily basis when faced with speeding traffic in around their schools and homes. The theme of the Week is 'Save the life of a child- slow down.'

The results of a shocking road safety survey of 1,500 seven to fourteen year old children conducted at schools across the country is being released by Brake, the road safety charity. Brake runs Road Safety Week with support from the Department for Transport, Department for Education and Skills and high street names Direct Line, Green Flag, Renault and Sainsbury's.

Figures released today by Brake are attached. The total number of child pedestrian casualties in St Edmundsbury this year was 16 compared with 18 in 2001 and 17 in 2000.

Nationally, the survey found that:

- 75% of children want MORE SPEED CAMERAS
- HALF of children describe the road outside their school as DANGEROUS
- HALF of children say they need a SAFER PLACE TO CROSS outside their school
- 70% of children think drivers should GO SLOWER near their school
- ONE IN THREE children say the road outside their home is DANGEROUS

An alarmingly high number of children say they have been hit by a vehicle, or narrowly escaped being hit, when on foot:
- 10% of children say they HAVE BEEN HIT by a vehicle while on foot
- 38% say they have NEARLY BEEN HIT
- 59% of children KNOW SOMEONE who has been killed or hurt in a crash, causing untold trauma to those children

Shockingly, in 2002, 83 children were killed on foot across the UK. Drivers on roads without speed enforcement continue to drive too fast and kill children. More than half of drivers - 59% - still break 30mph limits in residential areas, according to statistics released by the Department for Transport.

Slowing down by only a few miles an hour can make the difference between life and death. At 35mph a driver is twice as likely to kill a child they hit, compared with at 30mph. In heavily built-up areas and near schools it is vital to travel at a speed of 20mph or lower.

David Ruffley MP said: 'I am supporting Road Safety Week because even one child injured on our roads is one too many. The number of child pedestrian casualties in St Edmundsbury remains too high and we must do all we can to reduce it. At a time when the Government is encouraging parents to allow their children to walk to school rather than doing a school run by car it is essential that all drivers put safety first. Children are our future and we must ensure they are safe on our roads.'

Mary Williams OBE, Chief Executive of Brake, said: 'These survey findings are no surprise given our appalling record of child pedestrian fatalities, and are terrible news for all parents who want a safe and happy environment for their children. We need urgent, extensive investment in more road safety engineering solutions and traffic enforcement to enable our most precious resource, our children, to walk to school and around their homes free from danger on the roads.'