Road safety charity demands 20mph speed limit around UK schools

“Why do we have to wait until a child is killed before we act?” 

That is the stark question being asked by UK road safety charity Brake, which says that parents are not walking their children to school because they think it is simply too dangerous.

Speeding is a factor in 25 per cent of all fatal road traffic incidents, and 48 children were tragically killed on UK roads in 2022.

With research showing that over a third of parents think roads are too busy and a quarter think traffic is too fast, the charity is now demanding that a speed limit of 20 miles per hour (mph) – or 32 kilometres – is introduced around all schools in the United Kingdom.

These latest findings have been published to coincide with. the Brake’s Kids Walk event, which saw over 110,000 children aged 4-11 from more than 720 schools and nurseries call out in unison for their right to make safe and healthy journeys without fear or threat from traffic.

Parents: ‘Roads are too dangerous’

Lucy Straker, Campaigns Manager at Brake, said: “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.

“As schools up and down the country take part in Brake’s Kids Walk to shout out for safe places to walk, with slow traffic, 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.”

Brake has highlighted the experiences of various schools across the country, many of which have been campaigning – without success – for speed limits to be cut.

At Dropmore Infant School in Buckinghamshire for example, parents have reported passing traffic ripping off a car door when they dropped their children off at school. Children are also faced with having to walk on roads because there are no pavements.

‘Passing traffic ripped off a car door’

The school is situated on a T-junction, and although the limit is officially 30mph, the the limit on surrounding roads is as high as 60mp/h, which results in vehicles driving past the school far too fast.  A local community ‘speedwatch’ group has recorded cars speeding past the school at an average of 38mph, with the highest speed recorded in front of the school being 54mph.

Gitta Streete, the school’s headteacher, said their pleas for a cut in the speed limit have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. “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,” she said.

“One parent had their car door taken off by a passing car. That could easily have been a child, parent or carer being hit. 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.”

The latest government figures show that 11,580 children aged 15 or under were killed or injured on roads in the UK in 2021, and an average taken from the last five years gives a figure of 13,503. This means that, on average, 37 children die or suffer injuries as a result of road crashes every single day. Provisional figures for 2022 show that 48 children died on roads in the UK, or one child almost every week.

Lucy Straker continued: “Sadly, we know that Dropmore’s situation is being replicated across the country. 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?

Click here for details of how you can access the Brake research.

Author: Simon Weedy

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