Slow down and save kids’ lives

Children from Andover Primary School are taking part in a national march to get drivers to slow down and save kids’ lives.

On Wednesday (today) 231 children are marching from their school gates at 10 am to call for safer roads for children and make an attempt on the world record for the largest ‘walking bus’.

They will be appealing to local drivers to slow down to 20 mph or below in built-up areas to protect children on foot.

The children are joining tens of thousands more across the UK taking part in the Giant Walking Bus, co-ordinated by road safety charity Brake and sponsored by leading fuel brand Jet.

The event aims to raise awareness of the appalling number of children killed and hurt on roads, help schools to teach children about road safety, and appeal to drivers to slow down in communities.

Shockingly, 785 children are hurt or killed each month while on foot on Scotland’s roads.

As well as calling on drivers to help protect children by driving at 20 mph or below in communities, Brake is calling for widespread 20 mph limits in built-up areas as they are shown to deliver significant community benefits, including reduced casualties, particularly among children.

Many local authorities are implementing 20 mph limits as the norm in built-up areas; Brake is appealing to more to follow suit, creating a safer environment for children to walk and cycle.

The Giant Walking Bus is expected to involve more than 125,000 children from nearly 600 schools around the UK.

They aim to break the current record of 119,697 children taking part in a walking bus, and raise £35,000 for Brake’s work, including its helpline for bereaved and injured families.

At the same time, Jet is backing the campaign by aiming to get thousands of drivers to make a pledge to drive at 20mph or below in built up areas, which they can sign up to at participating Jet fuel stations around the country.

Julie Townsend, Brake’s campaigns director, says: “Brake supports families whose children have been killed or maimed on roads - so we know the terrible devastation these tragedies cause. Yet many could be prevented by drivers taking the simple step of slowing down in communities.

“You never know when a child might make a mistake and run out; your slower driving could save their life.

“At 20mph or lower, you stand a good chance of stopping in time if a child runs out three car lengths ahead. At 30mph or more, you would barely slow down before hitting them, potentially with catastrophic results.

“Please back our campaign for safer roads for children by pledging to drive at 20mph or below in communities.”

Wendy Logan, whose son Gordon was knocked down and killed, aged 10, by a speeding driver says: “Children are so precious and yet so many children are killed or horrendously injured in the UK by dangerous driving.

“I support this event to raise awareness of the importance of driving slowly in communities and to raise funds for such an important charity that providing vital support to road crash victims.”

Tony Conway, Marketing Manager at Jet, comments: “Jet is delighted to be sponsoring Brake’s Giant Walking Bus event this year.

“As a company that puts safety at the heart of its operations and runs a number of educational safety initiatives, this sponsorship is very much in line with Jet’s aim of supporting the local community.

“Our link with Brake goes back a number of years and we continue to be impressed with the level of enthusiasm and commitment shown by the Brake team, both for the annual event and the many other ongoing projects the charity operates.”