Road safety Facts

Parents should not alarm children by suggesting children are at a great risk when near traffic, but should aim to equip them with the skills they need to deal with the situations they are faced with daily
on our roads. Children should be encouraged to walk and cycle more and break their reliance on car transport particularly for short journeys and trips to and from school. It is important that children cycling should first seek an appropriate cycle training scheme and then keep their skills up to date. Parents should enquire from their child's school as to the availability of Cycle training schemes. Parents should be aware that their childs school will have a School Travel Plan which seeks to provide practical measures to travel issues around schools to encourage more walking cycling and sustainable modes of transport.

A child's life is full of distractions - whether it's having fun with their mates, chatting on their mobile phone, listening to music, or just thinking about something else - so it's easy for them to forget about keeping themselves safe, especially on the roads. Traffic is the biggest single cause of accidental death for 7 - 16 year olds. Six out of ten youngsters reported that they have either been in an accident/near miss or know someone at school who had been. Sixty-two per cent of young people admit to being distracted by talking to friends as they cross the road. It only takes a second to become one of the 22,000 young people injured on our roads every year.

Children should be made aware that when they are out and about as a pedestrian, they should think about what they are doing when they reach the kerb. Distractions such as using personal stereos, chatting on the mobile and texting while crossing the road are a big danger, but 36% of girls and 25% of boys say they get distracted crossing the road by using their mobiles.

The Government has set a target to reduce the number of children killed or seriously injured on the road by 50% by 2010, compared to the average number from 1994–1998.

The following statistics give a broad picture:

In 2008, 73 children aged 0–11 years were killed on Britain’s roads. Another 1,436 were seriously injured.

In 2008 a Transport Research Laboratory survey showed that 6% of 5–9 year olds were not restrained at all whilst travelling in the rear of cars.

Most children under 9 can't judge how fast vehicles are going or how far away they are.

68% of children aged 0–11 killed or seriously injured in 2008 were on foot at the time.

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 worse than many other European countries, though improving rapidly.

Real people real numbers

Deaths and injuries on the road

  • 3,508 people were killed in road accidents in 2003.
  • 33,707 were seriously injured.
  • 253,392 were slightly injured.


  • 171 children were killed in road accidents in 2003.
  • 3,929 were seriously injured.
  • More than twice as many boys as girls are killed or seriously injured in pedestrian and cycle accidents.


  • 114 pedal cyclists were killed in road accidents in 2003.
  • 2,297 were seriously injured.

Dos and don'ts for cyclists

  • Be visible. Ride well clear of the kerb, wear bright clothing and always use lights after dark or in poor weather conditions.
  • Show drivers what you plan to do. Always look and signal before you start, stop or turn.
  • Ride a straight line past parked cars rather than dodging between them.
  • Don't jump red lights.
  • Don't ride on pavements.
  • Don't ride the wrong way up one-way streets, unless there's a sign saying cyclists can.
  • Don't ride across pedestrian crossings.


Motorists must take extra care and look out for pedestrians and cyclists after all it the motorist that is going to come off best in any accident.

Children should not only be taught about the dangers from facts alone, but shown the hazards on the roads. If they walk to school, an adult should  walk with them until they (and you) are comfortable that you have identified the best places to walk, cross and where to look out for blind spots. You can do the same for the park, shops etc until you're sure they've got the message.
It's also worth remembering that if the traffic can't see them, it may be too late by the time they do. When buying coats, especially in winter when the nights draw in, make sure it is a light colour (yes, it made be harder to clean, but what would you rather have - a more grubby coat or an invisible child?).
There are also some great reflective products on the market now. Clothes can be customised with fluorescent designs or stickers and sashes can be bought from places such as Bright Kidz, which are the same material as industrial safety gear in some very funky designs

Finally road safety should be at the fore of every parent to ensure their child does not become a statistic on our roads.


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