Any campaign to raise awareness about road safety must always consider our most vulnerable road users, and children are very much at the heart of this year’s Road Safety Week.
This year, road safety charity Brake encourages all of us to consider how we use our local roads and to Drive Less, Live More. It’s all aimed at reducing unnecessary car journeys – and less cars around would certainly mean a safer play environment for children and a much lower risk of them being injured on their way to school.
On the Road Safety Week website, we are asked whether we remember “skipping happily to school, without a care in the world.” It’s an ideal world scenario of course but all “school run” drivers should give serious thought to whether there are alternative ways of taking their children to school.
Are Some School Runs Unnecessary?
Although road safety is the main focus of the Drive Less, Live More campaign, the health of the nation would surely improve if more people chose alternative means of transport instead of unnecessary car journeys.
Official Department for Transport research confirms almost half of UK primary school children are driven to school each day. A growing UK obesity epidemic is something that’s often reported in the media, with predictions that 70% of girls and 55% of boys could be obese by 2050. An appalling vision of the future that can only be stopped in its tracks if we educate people now – both parents and children alike.
Driving children to school when it’s feasible to choose alternative methods teaches children that the car is the primary means of transport. If parents walked with their children to school then they’d learn the benefits of walking from an early age. Walking would become second nature and they’d arrive at school more awake and alert.
Road Safety and the School Run
Average primary school journeys are just one and a half miles long but, according to sustainable transport charity Sustrans, one in five cars during the morning rush hour are doing the school run.
That’s a lot of cars which are adding to already congested and polluted roads, not to mention the problem of parking around school gates and the issue of speeding drivers on their way to work.
Parents who are reading this blog could be thinking “I’d love my children to walk to school, I just don’t think it’s safe enough.” That would be a fair point to make – but if everyone heeded Brake’s call to choose more sustainable methods of transport then there’d be fewer cars on the road, thus enabling children to walk to school with a much lower risk of being injured in a road collision.
Brake calls it the School Run Catch 22 – parents contributing to the problem of busy and unsafe roads by continuing to drive their children to school, arguing that they are protecting them from risk. So many cars crammed on to small residential roads at the same time every morning just makes things worse.
So, if parents use this year’s Road Safety Week to start driving less, their children really will start living more.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a leading personal injury law firm and offer a free consultation to anyone injured in a road collision through no fault of their own.