4,554 primary school children from 30 schools in the East Midlands will be marching for safer roads at 10am today, Wednesday 20 June, as part of the UK-wide Giant Walking Bus, coordinated by Brake, the road safety charity. They will be calling on drivers to help protect children on foot in their communities by slowing down to 20mph around schools, homes and shops. Participating schools in the region who have invited media to attend are listed below.
Across the country, more than 120,000 kids from 600 schools will be simultaneously marching for road safety: saying yes to safe walking, and no to fast traffic. They will be trying to beat the Guinness World Record for the largest walking bus, set at 119,697 through the same event in 2009.
Brake is today revealing new government statistics showing that each week on East Midlands roads, 10 children are knocked down and hurt while on foot . At the same time, nationwide more and more parents are driving their children to school, meaning more traffic and pollution, and less chance for kids to get exercise .
Brake is calling on drivers across the region to help prevent tragedies, and make roads safer for children to walk to school and get out and about in their neighbourhood, by pledging to slow down to 20mph in communities. This is the compassionate, socially responsible way to drive, giving you time to react and brake in an emergency, such as if a child suddenly steps out (see facts below). Drivers can make Brake's Pledge at www.brake.org.uk/pledge.
Brake is also calling for more 20mph limits, and other measures to protect people on foot, to make towns and villages safer, greener, healthier and more family-friendly. Brake is calling on the government to encourage and enable more local authorities to implement widespread 20mph limits, and appealing to councils to make this progressive step. Communities concerned about children's safety can report their concerns and get advice on campaigning for road safety at www.brake.org.uk/zak-the-zebra.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, says: "The Giant Walking Bus is all about schools, kids and communities saying yes to safe walking – because children should be able to walk in their own neighbourhoods without being endangered. Too many children suffer due to fast traffic in their area, whether it's stopping them getting out and about and enjoying being a kid, or worse, suffering a terrible injury or even being killed. But we can do something about this. Drivers everywhere can help make roads safer for children by pledging to slow down to 20mph or below around schools, homes and shops, or avoiding driving altogether if possible, especially for short journeys. It's a simple commitment that can make a huge difference, helping to create safer, greener, more family-friendly communities."
About Giant Walking Bus
Giant Walking Bus is an annual event coordinated by Brake, with primary school children around the UK walking simultaneously in a supervised group around their school or on a nearby route, while learning about and promoting safe walking. Schools get free road safety resources and can choose to raise funds for Brake. In the run up and on the day, kids can learn about traffic pollution, danger and transport choices and create their own placards and posters. The children also aim to raise thousands of pounds for Brake's work supporting families bereaved or injured by a road crash and campaigning for safer roads for everyone.
Brake's calls to government
Brake wants to see the urban default speed limit reduced from 30mph to 20mph, to enable people to walk and cycle safely in their community across the country. In the meantime, Brake calls on the government to enable, encourage and fund more local authorities to implement town, village and city-wide 20mph limits, alongside other measures to protect people on foot and bicycle, like safe pavements, paths and crossings.
Brake is also appealing to local authorities everywhere to prioritise the safety and health of local people by taking steps to make walking and cycling safer, like implementing widespread 20mph limits.
Read more about Brake's Slower speeds save lives campaign.
Facts about children's safety on roads
Across the UK, 28 children were killed and 1,677 were seriously injured on foot in 2010 . While child road casualties in the UK have fallen in the past decade, year-on-year we have made less progress than many other European countries. Our child pedestrian death rate remains higher than 10 other EU countries, and three times higher than Finland's . So while the UK has the second lowest road death rate in the EU, we have a relatively poor record for protecting children, and could do much more to prevent these devastating casualties.
Traffic is the biggest non-medical cause of death for UK children , and the poorest children are most at risk: children in the lowest socio-economic group are more than four times more likely to be killed on foot than those in the highest group. See a report mapping the parts of the UK where children are most at risk .
At the same time, parents are more and more likely to take their child to school by car than let them walk or cycle. The 'school run' now accounts for 24% of car trips in urban areas at peak times . A recent survey by Brake and Churchill highlighted parents' fears for children's safety on roads: 90% said children were endangered by fast traffic in their area, and 74% said they would walk more if local roads were safer.
Slowing down to 20mph in communities is critical in protecting children and other vulnerable road users, because it gives drivers a far better chance of stopping in time in an emergency. At 20mph, if a child suddenly steps out three car lengths ahead, you should just be able to stop in time. At 30mph, you would barely have time to hit the brakes, and would hit the child at 27mph, with a significant chance of seriously maiming or killing them.
20mph limits have been shown to be highly effective in improving safety, especially for children on foot. For example, see research on the impact of 20mph zones in London and Hull, an initial evaluation of city-wide 20mph limits in Portsmouth, and research into 30km/h limits (about 19mph) in the Netherlands.
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 65 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (19-25 November 2012), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.
Road crashes are not accidents: they are man-made, preventable, violent events that devastate lives. Brake does not use the term accidents because it undermines work to tackle needless casualties and causes insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by road death or injury.
 528 children age 0-15 year-old were injured as pedestrians in 2010 in the East Midlands region (99 serious injuries, and 429 slight injuries); figures obtained by Brake from the Department for Transport, May 2012
 In 2010, 43% of primary school children in Britain were driven to school, while 47% walked, compared to 1998-2000 averages of 37% being driven and 56% walking. National Travel Survey 2010, Department for Transport, 2011
 Statistics for 0-15 year-old pedestrians provided to Brake by the Department for Transport (for England, Wales and Scotland) and Police Service of Northern Ireland (for Northern Ireland), May 2012
 Reducing child deaths on European Roads, ETSC PIN Flash 12, 2009,
 Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2010, Department for Transport 2011
 Deaths by age, sex and selected underlying cause, 2010 registrations: England and Wales, Office for National Statistics; Table 6.4 Deaths, by sex, age and cause, 2010 registrations, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency; Table 6.4 Deaths, by sex, age and cause, Vital Events Reference Tables 2010, General Register Office for Scotland
 A study into resident risk of children on roads in Great Britain 2004-08, Road Safety Analysis, 2010
 National Travel Survey 2010, Office for National Statistics, 2011