Children aged between four and 11 are taking part in Brake’s Kids Walk campaign with Shaun the Sheep. The national project, run by road safety charity Brake in partnership with insurance group esure, sees Shaun and his flock help youngsters learn key road safety messages and call on grown-ups to make roads safer so more children can enjoy the health and planet-saving benefits of walking, riding or scooting to school.
To coincide with the launch of the walk, Brake has highlighted the true extent of child casualties on the nation's roads.
Latest official figures show that 16,150 children were killed or injured on roads in the UK in 2019; an average taken from the last five years gives a figure of 18,017. This means that, on average, 50 children die or suffer injuries as a result of road crashes every single day.
Department for Transport (DfT) figures for 2015 – 20191 show that on average 15,445 children aged 0-16 are killed or injured on roads in England annually. In Wales the average figure is 701 child road casualties while Scotland reports on average 984, and in Northern Ireland the average is 887.
Of all regions of the UK, the South East of England sees the greatest number of child road casualties (2,327 in 2019), with an average of 45 children killed or injured as a result of road crashes every week. The number has come down by 15% since 2015, when 2,729 children were killed or injured on roads in the South East. London has the next highest toll of child road casualties in the UK, with 2,054 reported in 2019, a decrease of 147 or 7% compared with 2015 (2,201).
The road casualty figures broadly correlate with population density2, with some notable exceptions. Out of the 12 regions of the UK, the South West is the fifth most populous but its average child road casualty figures are eight in the country. Similarly, Wales has an average of 701 child road casualties every year, putting it at the bottom of the casualty table, although its population size is ninth out of 12 regions in the UK.
Conversely, the tenth smallest region of the UK is the West Midlands, but it is fifth on the list of child road casualties with an average of 1,700 per year; Yorkshire and the Humber is the seventh most populous region but is fourth on the list of average child road casualties per annum.
More than 50,000 children from nearly 300 schools and nurseries are taking part in Brake's Kids Walk this year, calling for five measures to help keep children safe near roads: footpaths, cycle paths, safe places to cross, slow traffic and clean traffic.
Short, supervised walks are taking place today and all week at or around schools and nurseries. Children will walk in a crocodile formation and hold hands to highlight the importance of being able to walk without fear or threat from traffic. Some schools are teaming up with their local fire service or police forces to raise awareness of local road safety.
Schools can also run special road-safety-themed assemblies, lessons and fun activities, using free resources from Brake and featuring Shaun the Sheep and his friends. Resources are available to any parent, carer or teacher to download for free at www.brake.org.uk/kidswalk. The event can also be used to fundraise for Brake, which supports families who have lost loved ones in road crashes.
Brake’s Kids Walk 2021 is sponsored by esure.
Aardman Animations have kindly lent their imagery of Shaun the Sheep and friends to support this campaign.
Scott Williams, head of programme delivery at Brake, said: “It’s every child’s right to be able to walk in their community without fear of traffic and pollution. Throughout the pandemic families have taken to the streets on foot and by bike and we hope these activities will continue as restrictions lift and ordinary road traffic returns. It is vital that children are able to walk safely in the places where they live. This year we hope to inspire as many children, schools and families as possible through our Brake’s Kids Walk event.”
David McMillan, CEO at esure Group added: “We are thrilled to have partnered with Brake to sponsor this year’s event as we believe in the importance of road safety for children everywhere. We want to be a force for good and make a real difference by focusing on better and safer driving. Brake’s Kids Walk is an important opportunity to raise awareness about road safety messages.”