Road Safety Week 22-28 November 2010

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Road Safety Week 22-28 November 2010

22nd November 2010

As Road Safety Week 2010 begins today, road traffic collisions experts at Fentons Solicitors LLP are backing calls for motorists to slow down.

Organised by the road safety charity Brake, Road Safety Week 2010 - whose theme this year is 'Kids Say Slow Down' - aims to encourage drivers to think about the devastating impact collisions can have on child victims and their families.

Joanna Bailey, a spokesperson for Brake and a partner with the firm said: "It is vitally important motorists support this campaign and embrace calls to watch their speed. Although all road traffic collisions involving fatalities or serious injuries are tragic, those involving children are especially distressing."

The 'Kid's Say Slow Down' theme was chosen by Brake after research revealed that in 2009, 13,719 children were involved in road traffic accidents in the UK alone. Of these, 70 children were run over and killed whilst out walking or cycling; 2,470 children were left with serious injuries, including paralysis, brain damage and limb loss; and 11,179 children were left with cuts, bruises and mental trauma.

A national survey of 15,000 9-13 year-olds conducted by Brake for Road Safety Week has found that almost nine in 10 children (86%) think drivers go too fast around their homes and schools. Shockingly, one in 10 children (10%) say they have been knocked down while walking or cycling; a further 56% have had a near miss, and a further 16% have had a 'frightening experience.'

"In the 18 years it takes for a child to grow up and become an adult, nearly a quarter of a million children will have been struck by a vehicle while they were walking or cycling, more often than not, on their journeys to and from school," said Joanna. "This is unacceptable.

"The UK child pedestrian death rate remains higher than ten other EU countries, and eight times higher than Sweden's," Joanna added. "These appalling figures dramatically illustrate how much more we need to do to further reduce the numbers of children who are killed or maimed on UK roads each year."

Amongst a raft of measures being currently put to Government as part of Brake's strategy for tackling child road deaths and serious injuries, is an appeal to urgently implement legislation to reduce the default urban speed limit to 20mph.

"At 20mph drivers have a good chance of stopping in time if a child runs out three car lengths in front of them," said Joanna. "At 20mph, it takes an alert driver approximately 12 metres, that's three car lengths, to come to an emergency stop, compared to 23 metres or six car lengths if a vehicle was being driven at 30mph."

Evidence shows that 20mph zones are highly effective in reducing road injuries and deaths particularly amongst children. A recent study of the 399 20mph zones in London showed a 41.9% reduction in road casualties with a 50.2% reduction in the numbers of children aged 0-15 killed or seriously injured.

In recent years, many local and regional authorities have recognised the value of 20mph limits by introducing them on a widespread basis around schools and in residential areas. Despite this, the coalition Government announced in June a 40% cut to the road safety grant to local authorities. As a result, road safety services in many parts of the country continue to scale down with several local authorities cancelling their road safety partnerships and announcing they can no longer afford to run some or all of their life-saving speed cameras.

By withdrawing existing measures that are proven to prevent deaths and injuries the huge amount of progress in reducing road deaths and injuries in recent years is now at considerable risk of being undone. Child deaths and serious injuries are unacceptable on account that they are preventable. By introducing measures to reduce and control vehicle speeds, particularly around homes, schools, shops and community facilities, it is surely inevitable the nation's roads would become safer for children?

"Road Safety Week 2010 is all about slowing down," said Joanna. "It is paramount that drivers heed this crucial safety message and start cutting their speed. The needless injuries and loss of so many young lives, and the subsequent devastation caused to families as a result of speeding cannot be allowed to continue. When drivers choose to ignore speed limits or fail to allow for adequate emergency braking distances it is all too often the innocent child pedestrian or passenger who unfortunately suffers the consequences."

How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for families and victims of fatal road traffic collision.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.