Why teach road safety?
There has been a reduction in deaths and serious injuries on our roads over the years and in 2009 the number of deaths was the lowest on record. However there is a need to reduce deaths and injuries even further.
The following statistics give a broad picture:
- In 2009, 38 children aged 0–11 years were killed on Britain's roads. Another 1,372 were seriously injured. Of these, there were 10 deaths amongst 5–7 year olds and 355 serious injuries.
- In 2008 a Transport Research Laboratory survey showed that 6% of 5–9 year olds were not restrained at all when travelling in the rear of cars.
- Most children under 9 can't judge how fast vehicles are going or how far away they are.
- 67% of children aged 0–11 killed or seriously injured in 2009 were on foot at the time. In the 5–7 year old age group around 69% were on foot.
- In comparison with other countries, Britain's overall road safety record for children is on the whole very good, and its rate for child fatalities is well below the European average. But our record on child pedestrian fatalities remains less good than many European countries, though improving rapidly.
Parents are often uncertain about where the responsibility for teaching road safety lies. One of the aims of this resource is to ensure that this responsibility is shared by all those involved with young children.
It should also be emphasised that there is a need for overall balance when teaching road safety: we must not suggest to young children that they are always at great risk near traffic and we do certainly not want to convey the message to anyone, least of all parents, that children can only be kept safe by keeping them indoors or in cars. Walking and cycling must continue to be promoted as healthy, enjoyable activities; the challenge is to give children the skills, understanding and confidence to deal with traffic safely while they are engaged in them.