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2 in 3 drivers say local roads unsafe for families and kids on foot and bikes

Brake and Churchill survey comes as Beep Beep! Days seek to educate children about traffic danger

Two thirds of British motorists believe that at least some roads in their local areas are unsafe for families to walk and cycle in, according to a survey published by road safety charity Brake in partnership with insurer Churchill. Brake is asking drivers to do something about that by slowing down to 20mph near schools, nurseries, shops, and in residential areas, it is also promoting Beep Beep! days around the country to help educate children to dangers posed by traffic.

According to Department for Transport figures released this week, almost 2,000 children were seriously injured on Britain’s roads in 2013 and 48 lost their lives, the vast majority of those casualties, 83 per cent, on foot or riding a bike

Beep Beep! Days take place in nurseries and pre-schools around the country, many of them in National Road Safety Week which runs from 17-23 November this year. Some 27,000 children participated in one during 2013, says Brake, which adds that more than 32,500 are already registered to take part in one this year..

As part of their initiative, Brake and Churchill are urging motorists to help improve the safety of children near schools, nurseries and shops and in residential areas by slowing down to no more than 20mph.

It survey of 1,000 motorists, conducted by opinion pollsters Surveygoo, found that 16 per cent of motorists, nearly one in six, admitted they had experienced a near miss with a pedestrian or cyclist within the past 12 months, and that nearly two thirds, 62 per cent, admitted being worried themselves about being struck by vehicles when walking around their local area.

While 36 per cent of drivers said that they believed it was safe for families to walk and cycle in most or all of their local areas, 57 per cent thought that only applied to some parts of their neighbourhood, and 7 per cent stated it was unsafe in most or all of the area they live in.

Male drivers were more likely than female ones to have had a near-miss with a cyclist or pedestrian within the past 12 months, including where they had to stop and swerve, at 18 per cent versus 10 per cent. Meanwhile 3 per cent of men who drive admitted they had hit someone, versus 1 per cent of women.

An equal percentage, 1 per cent, of male and female motorists confessed to hitting someone who sustained minor injuries, although none said that the person concerned had to go to hospital or suffered serious or long-term injuries.

More than four in five drivers, 82 per cent, claimed never to have hit someone, while 3 per cent said that they themselves had been struck while travelling on foot or riding a bike.

Just one in three people – 34 per cent – claimed never to be worried about being hit by traffic when walking around the area where they live, while 48 per cent worry occasionally, 10 per cent often but not every time, and 4 per cent whenever they are out on foot locally.

A handful – 1 per cent – never or hardly ever walk on the streets where they live because they believe they are too dangerous, while 3 per cent said they did not do so because of other reasons.

Brake’s deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, said: "It's vital we make our roads safer for families and people of all ages to walk and cycle, and drivers can help bring this about.

“It is unacceptable that five children are seriously injured or killed each day on our roads, and it is unacceptable to deny any child a healthy, active upbringing because of local dangers.

“Our survey reveals that drivers acknowledge the risks families face on roads – but we also need drivers to realise the difference they personally can made, and always drive as though a child could run out unexpectedly.

“As thousands of tots gear up to take part in a Beep Beep! Day this autumn, to start learning about dangers on roads, we're appealing to drivers everywhere to help reduce those dangers: slow down to 20mph in communities to help save little lives.

“We're also urging more pre-schools and nursery to register to be part of this important project," she concluded.

"We are very proud to be supporting Beep Beep! Day once again this year,” added Gus Park, director of Churchill Car Insurance. “Too many children die or are seriously injured on our roads each day,” he continued.

“Beep Beep! Day is a great way of starting to educate young children on road safety, as well as raising awareness among drivers, including parents and grandparents, of the need to drive with extreme care when young children are about."

The events are targeted at children aged two to seven years, and helps them learn the basics of road safety through taking part in fun activities such as playing with toy vehicles to understand the principles of ‘stop’ and ‘go’ or singing road safety songs, as well as helping make parents and motorists aware of what they can do to help make children safe and what their responsibilities are.

Nurseries, playgroups, infant schools, children’s centres and child minders can obtain a free Beep Beep! Day resource pack which includes posters, stickers and ideas for activities from the Brake website, by phoning 01484 550061 or via beepbeep [at] (email).

Brake’s advice to parents is:

When your child starts to walk with you around your community, talk to them about how they must always hold your hand. If your child is likely to pull away from you, use safety reins or a wrist strap. Hold hands until your child is at least eight, or longer depending on their development.

Make sure they understand the meaning of stop, traffic, danger, look, listen, walk don't run, and other key words. Encourage your child's nursery or playgroup to teach road safety through a Beep Beep! Day. Your child's learning will be more effective if they are taught about road safety at school as well as at home.


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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ironmancole | 8 years ago

Genuine question - given the oh so politically correct world we are in and the fact that everyone has a series of 'rights' that in some cases have gone beyond stupid:

At what point does both my 'right' as a human being to travel from A to B in a lawful manner and free of unreasonable levels of danger as posed by lawless traffic policies undermine my liberty to:

Live free of fear
Live free of needless cause of serious injury and death
Enjoy my immediate environment
Travel where and how I wish unimpeded by aggressors

At present we have a system that is essentially based on fear, in that if you wish to use the public transport network you had better wrap yourself in a steel cage because if you don't and you get killed it's your fault.

It can be likened to not being able to walk to work as there are numerous knife wielding thugs about that the authorities choose to ignore so unless I wear a stab vest and also carry a knife it's my fault if I get killed.

The first is a given and deemed ok whereas the second would be met with concern.

Can't this continued discrimination and refusal to safeguard the vulnerable at the hands of a repeat offender be challenged at a human rights level? Car/knife - both kill and both can be controlled but somehow government chooses to play dumb and continues to remain ignorant.

Any thoughts?

a.jumper | 9 years ago

Glad I'm not insured by Churchill. And I never will be.

arfa | 9 years ago

Looking at these sorts of survey results makes me wonder how many drivers are aware of their obligations under the highway code ? It is unequivocally clear on how you must adjust your driving/speed to the dangers around you and "holding a child's hand has got sweet FA to do with these obligations. I despair. Roads are not dangerous, it is the way people drive on them that is. If insurers want to do something constructiv, get that message crystal clear first and foremost.

gazza_d | 9 years ago

"Beep Beep" Days - Does Brake now have Mr Toad writing their "educational" material these days?

FFS - It's not the children we need to "educate".

It's the parents & other adults speeding, using phones etc., and even just using cars just too much.

but as usual it all ends up as keep out of the way of the important person in the car. They must be important as they are in a car and rushing

escalinci | 9 years ago

Ultimately the solution involves ceding more space to people walking or cycling, and making car trips slower and less desirable.

Lots of people make very nice noises about this, but supporting the difficult and expensive (though not compared to continued road building and maintenance) task of reallocating road space with sensible designs that give people priority is something politicians find very hard to do.

Because 'freedom' for the car is easy. You build a road, and it has priority by virtue of it's speed and size. But as with many other kinds of freedom, having the most overall freedom to move involves restricting those with the most power. Until politicians have the strength to sell the vision of better streets and risk 'oppressing' drivers then it's going to be very slow.

Here is the space4cycling ride in Manchester. That video could do with sharing if you can.

teaboy | 9 years ago

Why are these called "Beep Beep! days"? Was "get out of the way or I'll run you over! days" taken?

"As part of their initiative, Brake and Churchill are urging motorists to help improve the safety of children near schools, nurseries and shops and in residential areas by slowing down to no more than 20mph."

Otherwise known as 'obey the law'...

HarrogateSpa | 9 years ago

Appealing to drivers to think about what they personally can do is not likely to work.

mrmo replied to HarrogateSpa | 9 years ago
HarrogateSpa wrote:

Appealing to drivers to think about what they personally can do is not likely to work.

very much agree, i can't remember all the details, but i believe it was an american survey that found most drivers believe that they are far better than the average driver.

Ush | 9 years ago

"I believe roads are dangerous... therefore anyone that is on them is exposing themselves deliberately to danger. Certainly not something I would do myself."

Eff off.

Airzound | 9 years ago

On reflection 2 out of 3 drivers know they drive like f*cking maniacs so agree the roads they drive on are unsafe. No shit Sherlock! And how about the ones that don't admit to hitting a cyclist like the c*nt who hit and run me? It's only a cyclist ……. The silent slaughter will continue.

bambergbike | 9 years ago

The idea of holding children's hands until they are eight is bizarre and smacks of victim-blaming.

Whatever about walking - what about cycling? I've seen three year olds use balance bikes for transport - they can go further on those, and faster, than on their little legs, so it speeds the whole family up to have the adults walking and the babies wobbling. To hold the hand of a child on a balance bike, the adult would need to walk bent double and the child would need to ride one handed.

samuri | 9 years ago

2 in 3 drivers...Hmmmm.

Aah, I get it now, it's everyone else who is making the roads dangerous. It's the other third. But not the two thirds. No. They're not doing it, it's the other people. Not me. yes.

mrmo | 9 years ago

hmm, so most drivers are concerned about the roads, on which they drive. I guess it is all the other drivers who are the problem???

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