Brake asks politicians and drivers to #SaveKidsLives as Global Road Safety Week begins

Friday 1 May 2015

Brake, the road safety charity 

Brake, the road safety charity, has added its voice to the call of organisations around the world to #SaveKidsLives as part of the United Nations’ third Global Road Safety Week (4-10 May 2015). In the run up to the UK general election on 7 May, through its GO 20 campaign, Brake is calling on all parties to commit to a 20mph default urban speed limit as the best way to protect children and enable them to enjoy walking and cycling without fear.

Brake, supported by tyre manufacturer Bridgestone, is revealing survey results showing widespread support among parents for a 20mph urban speed limit, which is even higher among those who have already experienced the benefits. Four in five parents (79%) who already live in widespread 20mph areas support changing the default, compared with seven in 10 (72%) in non-20mph areas. Parents who say they ‘strongly’ agree with the idea goes up from one in five (22%) to two in five (42%) among those who live in a 20mph area [1].

Children stand to benefit greatly from 20mph limits, as they are among our most vulnerable road users and unable to judge the speed of traffic above this speed [2]. The World Health Organisation is clear about the importance of 20mph limits in making walking and cycling safer for children and adults [3].

‘GOing 20’ in the UK can help stop our kids becoming part of horrifying statistics: globally, 500 children are killed on roads every day, and thousands more injured [4]. The UK has just witnessed its first rolling year increase in child road casualties in 20 years, with 16,640 casualties of all severities and 2,060 killed or seriously injured in the year ending September 2014 [5]. Increasingly local authorities are switching to 20 limits – it’s estimated 14 million people now live in these areas [6] – but Brake wants to see safer streets everywhere.

As well as calling for government action, Brake is asking all drivers to make their own personal commitment to the #SaveKidsLives campaign by pledging to stick to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops. This gives drivers twice as much time to react in an emergency as at 30mph, for instance if a child steps out unexpectedly.

Anyone can also show their commitment to the #SaveKidsLives campaign by signing the Child Declaration for Road Safety at Brake is also urging people to back the UK’s GO 20 campaign at

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “It is a global travesty that so many children around the world are killed and injured on roads every day, and denied their right to safe, healthy, active travel. Even in the UK, a developed country with a comparatively good road safety record, thousands of children are killed and seriously injured every year, and the figures are now going in the wrong direction. As the #SaveKidsLives campaign makes clear, we need meaningful, sustained, long-term action to create a better world for our children, both in the UK and across the globe. We are appealing to UK drivers to do their bit by GOing 20 in communities, and to the UK government to change the national default urban speed limit to 20mph.”

Tyre manufacturer Bridgestone, who are sponsoring Brake’s GO 20 campaign, added their support. Consumer sales and marketing director Farrell Dolan said: “The increase in child road casualties is alarming and the statistics are a big cause for concern. We are big supporters of Brake’s efforts to reduce these figures through their GO 20 campaign.

“We are thrilled to be official sponsors of this initiative and we can’t wait to get to work. Bridgestone is putting its name alongside a hugely respected charity which carries out a great deal of selfless work. We echo Brake’s call to drivers to stick to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops.”

Brake is the long-running coordinator of the UK’s national Road Safety Week, every November, involving thousands of schools, communities and organisations. Anyone can register to be a part of this huge awareness-raising event at

About Brake’s GO 20 campaign

Brake is part of a broad coalition of organisations calling for more local authorities to adopt widespread 20mph limits, and for the government to make 20mph the national urban default, through its GO 20 campaign. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, hashtag #GO20.

Why GO 20?

  • Fewer casualties: at 20, drivers have far more time to react in an emergency. Studies show when 20 limits replace 30, there are fewer casualties among pedestrians and cyclists [7].
  • More walking and cycling: danger from traffic is a major barrier in enabling more people to walk and cycle. Town and city-wide 20 limits have resulted in more people walking and cycling [8].
  • Healthier, happier people: More walking and cycling means healthier people, and more enjoyable outdoors activity for kids and adults. It helps communities interact and be communities.
  • Less pollution: GOing 20 means lower emissions from vehicle journeys [9]. Plus if more people can switch their commute or school run to foot or bike, it means less polluting traffic.
  • Lower costs: Poor health from inactivity costs society dearly [10]. Road casualties cost even more, due to the suffering and burden on health and emergency services [11]. Preventing casualties and improving health means GOing 20 pays for itself many times over [12]. It also helps people save money by choosing the cheapest ways to get about: foot and bike.

Full results

Q1. It has been proposed that the default urban speed limit be changed from 30mph to 20mph, with local authorities having the power to set higher speed limits on main routes. To what extent would you agree with this? (tick one 

  • All respondents:
    • Strongly agree: 28%
    • Agree: 46%
    • Disagree: 11%
    • Strongly agree: 8%
    • Don’t know: 8%
  • Respondents who said they live in rural areas with no or very few 20mph speed limits:
    • Strongly agree: 26%
    • Agree: 40%
    • Disagree: 17%
    • Strongly agree: 11%
    • Don’t know: 6%
  • Respondents who said they live in an urban/suburban area or village with no or very few 20mph speed limits:
    • Strongly agree: 24%
    • Agree: 48%
    • Disagree: 13%
    • Strongly agree: 9%
    • Don’t know: 7%
  • Respondents who said they live in an urban/suburban area or village with some 20mph zones:
    • Strongly agree: 22%
    • Agree: 52%
    • Disagree: 11%
    • Strongly agree: 9%
    • Don’t know: 7%
  • Respondents who said they live in an urban/suburban area or village with widespread 20mph limits:
    • Strongly agree: 42%
    • Agree: 37%
    • Disagree: 7%
    • Strongly agree: 3%
    • Don’t know: 10%


Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.


The largest manufacturer of tyres and rubber products worldwide, Bridgestone leads the way in quality, technologically innovative goods and services and is a trusted brand that goes from strength to strength.

Established in 1931 in the small town of Kurume, Japan on the island of Kyushu by its founder Shojiro Ishibashi, today it is a multi-billion pound business with 178 manufacturing plants, in 25 countries and a presence in over 150 markets worldwide.

Always seeking to be the best at what it does, Bridgestone is focused on its mission of “serving society with superior quality” through an enviable range of products that satisfy the needs of the customer and society as a whole.

End notes

[1] Survey of 1,000 parents of children aged 5-11 released today (Friday 1 May 2015), conducted by independent survey company Surveygoo in March 2015 on behalf of Brake.
[2] Reduced Sensitivity to Visual Looming Inflates the Risk Posed by Speeding Vehicles When Children Try to Cross the Road, University of London, 2011
[3] Pedestrian safety: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners, World Health Organisation, 2013
[4] Global status report on road safety 2013, World Health Organisation, 2013
[5] Reported road casualties in Great Britain, provisional estimates: Jul to Sep 2014, Department for Transport, 2015
[7] For example, 20mph speed reduction initiative, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2001;  20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report, Warrington Borough Council, 2010
[8] Where widespread 20 limits have been introduced levels of walking and cycling increased by 20% 
Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012
Environmental effects of 30 km/h in urban areas – with regard to exhaust emissions and noise, The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 1999
[10] The annual costs of physical inactivity in England are estimated at £8.2 billion. 
At least five a week - evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health - a report from the Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, 2004
[11] Road casualties in Britain cost an estimated £34.8billion in 2011, due to the burden on health and emergency services, criminal justice costs, insurance payouts, and human costs. Reported road casualties Great Britain annual reports 2011, Department for Transport, 2012
[12] In Bristol, 20mph resulted in a massive return on investment because of cost savings to the health service through increased physical activity. They used the 
World Health Organisation’s Health Economic Assessment Tool to estimate the changes in costs. They found for every £1 spent they saw a return of £24.72 through increased walking and £7.47 through increased in cycling. Citywide Rollout of 20mph speed limits, Bristol City Council Cabinet, 2012.  Reducing speeds in urban environments reduces casualties. For each 1mph speed reduction, casualties decrease by 5%, the effects of drivers’ speed on the frequency of road accidents, Transport Research Laboratory, 2000, fewer crashes reduces the burden on the NHS, emergency services and local economy.  Each death on roads costs £1.7 million and each serious injury costs £190,000, Reported road casualties Great Britain 2011, Department for Transport, 2012

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