Children, aged between four and 11, are taking part in Brake’s Kids Walk with Shaun the Sheep.
The national project, in partnership with the Ocado Foundation, 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.
To coincide with the launch of the walk, road safety charity Brake has highlighted the true extent of child casualties on the nation's roads.
Latest official figures show that 16,566 children were killed or injured on roads in the UK in 2017. This means that, on average, 45 children die or suffer injuries as a result of road crashes every single day.
Department for Transport (DfT) figures  show that 14,226 children were killed or injured on roads in England in 2017, while Welsh Government statistics  reveal there were 577 child road casualties during the same period. Transport Scotland  say that 899 children were killed or injured on roads in Scotland in 2017, and numbers were similar for Northern Ireland, which reports 864 child road casualties in the same year. 
Of all regions, London saw the greatest number of child road casualties (2,397), with an average of 46 children killed or injured as a result of road crashes every week. The number has risen by 29% since 2013, when 1,865 children were killed or injured on the capital’s roads. Between 2016 and 2017 (the year for which the latest figures are available), the number of child road casualties rose by 16% (from 2,063 in 2016), which means an additional 334 children were killed or injured on roads in London.
More than 63,000 children from nearly 400 schools and nurseries are taking part in Brake's Kids Walk, 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. Schools can also run special road-safety-themed assemblies, lessons and activities, using free resources featuring Shaun the Sheep and his friends.
The event can be used to fundraise for Brake, which supports families who have lost loved ones in road crashes.
Dave Nichols, community engagement manager for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Every child should be able to walk in their community without fear of traffic and pollution. Unfortunately, many kids are unable to do so because they don’t have access to simple measures such as footpaths, cycle paths and safe places to cross. Many more must contend with fast traffic and pollution from vehicle emissions. If we want children and their families to walk, we need to make sure their journeys are safe. We’re delighted that so many schools and children across the UK agree with us on this and are taking part in Brake’s Kids Walk. Together we can raise awareness about the issues that matter to them and help make their roads safer.”
Dorothy Pegg, assistant headteacher at Seven Sisters Primary School in Tottenham, said: “Our school is delighted to take part in Brake’s Kids Walk with Shaun the Sheep and help raise awareness about how we can all make our roads safer. We’re passionate about encouraging our children to live healthy lifestyles, which includes walking in their local community. That’s why we support Brake’s call for footpaths, cycle paths, safe places to cross, slow traffic and clean traffic to help keep children safe near roads.”
Stuart Reid, Interim Director of Vision Zero at TfL, said: “We completely agree with these children - death and serious injuries on our roads is unacceptable. Children should be able to walk to school, play, and enjoy London without worry. We are committed to making streets across London safer, as part of our Vision Zero ambition, by improving dangerous junctions, implementing our new bus safety programme and working with schools on Junior Roadwatch.”
Suzanne Westlake, head of corporate responsibility & corporate affairs at Ocado, said: "The Ocado Foundation is delighted to be supporting Brake’s Kids Walk with Shaun the Sheep. This is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the importance of road safety to children across the UK. Ocado and the Ocado Foundation have been undertaking road safety programmes for many years, so our involvement in this is a natural fit."
Notes to editors
- ras30039, Reported child casualties by severity, region and local authority, England, 2017, Department for Transport, 2018
- The number of casualties by age, type of vehicle, severity, date, highways agency and police force area, Stats Wales, Welsh Government, 2018
- Table 4, Key reported road casualties Scotland 2017, Transport Scotland, 2018
- Table 1.12, Police recorded injury road traffic collisions and casualties Northern Ireland: Detailed trends report 2017, Police Service of Northern Ireland, 2018