Welcome and thank you to everyone for taking the time to celebrate Brake’s work with us. All charities should take heart that citizenship is on the national curriculum of school learning. Brake in particular. Road safety is about good citizenship. Above all else, it’s about caring for our fellow man. It’s the parent who choses to care for the environment and prioritise health living, teach their child how to cross roads safely by choosing to walk to school - meanwhile reducing the danger of traffic to others on the school run. It’s the company boss who invests in a new vehicle fleet, risk management procedures and isn’t afraid to change for safety’s sake: banning use of all types of mobile phones, replacing company cars with rail passes, requiring all those who have to rive to be annually assessed. It’s the community that pulls to gether to reduce a speed limit, get a crossing, get a speed camera. It’s the mate who takes away their best friend’s car keys rather than let them drive drunk or drugged. It’s the Minister and civil servant who makes the connection, vitally, between reducing CO2 emmissions from excessive use of vehicles (reportedly up by 20% in the past 10 years in many regions) by enabling communities to walk and cycle by investing in road safety. Road safety can be the key to environmental goals. That link cannot be over-stated. No mother would agree to their child walking to school if there is a significant risk of death, as there often is.
In 2007 small steps were taken.
The Department for Transport published its child road safety strategy.
An overhaul of the driving test was promised.
The Government, after significant effort on our part, renewed its funding for our support literature for bereaved families.
New charges of killing through careless driving, driving unlicensed, and uninsured, and corporate killing charges, are being introduced.
These are significant but small steps.
Where is the funding for face to face support for road crash victims? The forgotten victims. Today there has been a ‘near miss’ plane crash. Hours of broadcast time have already been devoted to it. Yet today 9 people died on the roads in the UK, devastating families and communities. It is shameful that the promises of David Blunkett in 2001, that we would see funding for services for our desperately traumatised victim group through a much trumpeted Victim’s Fund have been, so far, false promises. Maybe next year, the year after, we wait; the families stoically suffer, without publicity, often in isolation, suffering horrendous trauma without the support they deserve. Representatives of the criminal justice system and parliamentarians here tonight - do what you can to help us with this vital campaign.
I hope tonight proves to be a useful opportunity to make links and reinvigorated about tackling the mammoth task ahead. I want to close by quoting from a speech by Michelle Kirby, auntie to Tommy who has killed aged 10 on a crossing last year. Michelle bravely spoke at the launch of Road Safety Week, when we launched our campaign for 20mph limits in all communities. Michelle says:
“Tommy was a very bright, funloving and cheek you with a unique personality and vivid imagination. He loved dinosaurs and Doctor Who. He loved his family. One can only imagine what Tommy’s parents Lynsey and Lloyd have gone through these last six months and will do for the rest of their lives. A simple visit to the supermarket, walking past any school. All everyday things that bring back memories of the son they cherished and believed would be with them for the rest of their lives. Tommy also has a brother, Alfie, who is just 4, and young cousins, my children, who are all still at odds to understand just where their hero has gone.
Those of you who have your own children, the next time you have a conversation with them, cuddle them, put them to bed or even tell them off, spare a thought for Tommy’s mum and dad. Could you imagine never been able to do these things with your child ever again?”
Please back Brake’s campaign for 20mph limits in built up areas. Lobby your MP. If you are a MP, lobby Government, reduce the default built up limit to 20 - NOW.
And if you are still wondering ‘How can I help?’ you know how you must help - give to Brake, volunteer for Brake, campaign with Brake.