Family Matters: Reminder of road safety for children

Picture : Adrian Murray.
Picture : Adrian Murray.
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As children started their new school year this week, a survey brought a chilling reminder of the need for road safety.

Sheffield had the fourth highest number of accidents on roads among major cities within a 500-metre radius of city schools that resulted in death or serious injury, the research showed.

This equated to 4.6 per cent of the national total between 2006 and 2011 and includes adults and children.

The city dropped to number 10 on the list when all accident injuries to children only were taken into account (5.1 per cent of the total).

More than half a million (557,200) collisions have taken place on roads within a 500-metre radius of British schools in the past six years. That has resulted in 85,814 child casualties, ranging from slight injuries to deaths. That equates to 1,190 amonth.

As a result, AXA Car Insurance and Road Safety Analysis, who provide road safety research and evaluation services, have launched Britain’s first Local Road Safety Index. It will help parents better understand the risks associated with the roads around their local schools to keep their children safe.

The Local Road Safety Index has been developed by analysing a total of 200,000 pieces of data relating to the immediate areas surrounding Britain’s 29,142 schools. This data reveals the total number of collisions and casualties in these areas, including children and adults, and if they were pedestrians, cyclists or in a vehicle.

A recent report by AXA Car Insurance revealed that almost nine out of 10 (86 per cent) of parents want the ability to access road safety information relating to their local school area, yet there was previously nothing to enable them to do so.

One aim of the index is to help to develop and tailor road safety education while determining the safety measures required, such as speed bumps, crossings or other road-calming measures – to further reduce collisions 
and casualties.

The survey found that there are, on average, seven collisions per school per year.

Fortunately, 5,831 schools (20 per cent) have reported no child casualties in the past six years.

To compare areas around specific schools, visit www.axainsurancezone.com/localroadsafetyindex

Pupils in South Yorkshire are being encouraged to plan their journey back to school by public transport using Travel South Yorkshire’s travel website for pupils, parents and teachers.

Onboard is an educational website that helps young people be more confident in using public transport and aware of how to use it safely.

Designed to appeal to each year group, it helps pupils plan their journey using the A-Z school finder and interactive tools, and find out all they need to know about public transport including walking and cycling.

Since its launch in November 2012, thousands of pupils from year groups six to 11, aged 10 to 16, have been logging on to find information about public transport for young people.

Onboard also provides parents, carers and teachers with help and advice on getting children to school safely.

SYPTE Interim Head of Customer Experience Nigel Cairns said: “The Onboard site is a fantastic tool for pupils, parents and teachers in South Yorkshire. It makes learning about the environmental, social and cost-saving benefits of public transport, and how to use it safely, fun and engaging.

“We’ve had a great response from users since its launch. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with schools and transport operators, parents and teachers, to make sure that pupils’ perception of public transport remains positive through the Onboard site.”

For more information, visit travelsouthyorkshire.com/onboard

Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger, asked drivers to take extra care as the school run starts again.

His top tips are:

Don’t compromise your concentration and the safety of other road users by being in a hurry. Leaving the house five minutes earlier changes the nature of how you make the journey.

Take extra care to compensate for the fact that children won’t always be paying attention, especially when approaching the school gate.

Never stop on the yellow zig zag lines by the school gate and always let your passengers out on the pavement side.

Try to arrange a car pool with other parents – the fewer vehicles around the school gates, the better.

Roads surrounding schools are usually 20mph and for a good reason – it’s essential that you slow down and keep an eye out for children crossing the road and emerging from between parked cars.

New starters in reception class are unlikely to understand the dangers that the road outside their school presents, so watch out for little ones wandering into the road.

If your children are walking to school on their own, make sure they are aware of potential hazards such as crossing busy roads – encourage them always to 
use pedestrian crossings where possible.