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Brake urges drivers to cut speed as Road Safety Week begins

Charity also says all road users should look out for one another in bid to cut deaths and serious injuries

Brake is urging motorists to cut their speed and is urging all road users to look out for each other in a bid to cut the number of deaths of cyclists and pedestrians on Britain’s roads. The appeal accompanies the start today of national Road Safety Week, which Brake co-ordinates, and which will see police targeting motorists whose driving puts others in danger.

The road safety charity, alongside partners Specsavers and the insurance company RSA, has also highlighted statistics showing that nearly 1 million drivers received fixed penalty notices (FPNs) either for speeding or careless driving during 2013, with such fines only introduced for the latter offence in August of that year.

According to Brake, 950,505 FPNs were issued for speeding and 17,483 for careless driving. It says that such behaviour by motorists does not only result in vulnerable road users being killed or seriously injured, but also deters many from travelling by foot or bike.

The results of a survey of 5,000 schoolchildren released by Brake today show that two in three believe the roads in the areas they live in are too dangerous for walking or cycling while two in five say they have been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle while travelling by bicycle or on foot.

Brake’s deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, said: “When drivers use roads without care for others the consequences can be tragic and horrific – people killed and badly injured, lives ruined forever, because of a moment of impatience or selfishness.

“At Brake we witness the suffering that results, daily, through our work supporting people affected by road death and injury. And there are wider consequences if we don’t look out for each other on roads – people may be afraid to walk and cycle or let their kids walk and cycle, and unable to get out and enjoy their community and live active lifestyles.

“That’s why we’re asking all road users to look out for and protect each other, particularly the most vulnerable. We’re especially calling on drivers to stick to 20 or below in towns and villages, look carefully at junctions, and be considerate.

“Ultimately, we’re all just human beings trying to get around, with equal right to use the roads, not competing tribes.”

Road Safety Week, which runs until Sunday 23 November, has come under criticism recently for placing too much emphasis on what vulnerable road users can do to protect themselves rather than focusing on attempting to tackle poor driving, with statistics revealing that 95 per cent of road traffic collisions are due to driver error.

Vulnerable road users – cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and horse-riders – accounted for half of the road fatalities in Great Britain, with 405 people on foot and 113 on bikes losing their lives in 2013 alone. In addition, 3,185 cyclists and 5,160 pedestrians were seriously injured.

Brake is urging people to support its campaign by using the hashtags #RoadSafetyWeek and #LookOutForEachOther on social media, asking their MP to support Early Day Motion 462 which backs Road Safety Week, and campaigning for a 20mph speed limit around schools and places where people live and shop.

“Walking, running, cycling and horseriding clubs can play a crucial role in getting this message out – hence we’re calling on active travel groups around the UK to log onto the Road Safety Week website and find out what they can do,” added Ms Townsend.

Both the police and the government support Road Safety Week. Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ national lead for roads policing, said: “Our officers and staff do a vital job in enforcing important safety laws and protecting the public on the roads.

“Road Safety Week is a great opportunity for forces and partners to engage with their local communities to deliver important road safety messages and undertake enforcement activities in support of Brake’s week.”

Transport minister Robert Goodwill, whose responsibilities include both road safety and cycling, commented:  “Cycling and walking are healthy ways to get around and are good for the environment too and I want more people to be able to make this choice for their journeys.

“At the same time we want to ensure cyclists and pedestrians are safe. That is why in the Cycling Delivery Plan I announced our proposals for the next phase of work on cycle and pedestrian safety.

“This includes cycle-proofing our roads and wider transport infrastructure, a review of regulations, the need to highlight best practice to local authorities, an update to the national design standards and a review of the driving test,” he added.

Currently in draft form, the Cycling Delivery Plan was criticised by campaigners when it was launched last month due to what were seen as unambitious targets for cycling, plus the absence of a firm commitment to spend £10 a head each year, with the government saying only that it would ”explore” how such a level of investment could be achieved.

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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