Road Safety News

Report suggests ‘alarming’ increase in young child casualties

Tuesday 18th June 2013

A new report published last week (18 June) suggests that the “share of serious road accidents involving young children”, and particularly girls, is at a 10-year high.

The AXA RoadSafe report, ‘Facts about road accidents and children’, analyses child accident rates over the last 10 years, during which time 32,849 children have been killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads. The report aims to identify ways to improve the road safety standards for children in the UK.

The report shows that in the past five years there has been a proportionate rise in child deaths and injuries among pedestrians (66% of all accidents in 2011, compared to 61% in 2006); the proportional share of death and serious injury for under fives is at the highest level for 10 years; pedestrian casualties for girls under eight are at the highest level since 2005; and more than 2,400 children under the age of 16 were killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads in 2011.

AXA says the report is intended to “arm parents and communities with the information they need to help reduce child road accidents, and to bring the number of casualties down to 1,500 by 2020 – a 40% reduction on 2011”.

Adrian Walsh, RoadSafe founder, said: “Parents often ask for guidance on how best to keep their children safe on our roads. They need to know when and where they may be at risk, whether travelling in cars, walking, cycling or playing. This report helps to put these risks into context.”

The report also reveals that 11 year olds are six times more likely to text on the way to school than 10 year olds, and that at 11 year olds face the highest risk for child pedestrians.

Commenting on the report, James Gibson, Road Safety GB press and PR officer, said: "We know that using mobiles makes drivers four times more likely to crash.  We’re particularly concerned at the level of distraction mobile phones can cause pedestrians too, particularly those who are both young and inexperienced road users. Parents need to warn children of the potential distractions and dangers mobiles can cause young pedestrians on their way to and from school. Texting, playing games and making calls can be lethal to a child near the road.

"Road Safety GB  recently conducted a photographic competition to highlight the potential dangers to young pedestrians.  The winning entry featured a pedestrian being distracted while using their mobile device."

In addition to this report, AXA is in the process of developing a schools road safety index which will launch in autumn 2013.

AXA says it intends to analyse more than 30,000 local schools and the surrounding areas across the country, and that the index will consider facts including speed limits, speed bumps, crossings and road markings while also incorporating road density information, crash rates and crash types.

While most of the data will be provided by Road Safety Analysis, hundreds of volunteers from across the UK have helped to assess their local schools.

The results will be given to schools and local authorities via partners to help them improve safety around their school.

Click here to read the full report.


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:
Captcha [What is this?]

Perhaps the Government should sit up and take notice of this as its austerity policies hit both road safety education and resources, including people.
Lucy, Scotland

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

20mph speed limit in all residential areas with enforcement needed more than ever.
Kie, London

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)


Agreed. The recent research by Prof John Wann and Dr Catherine Purcell shows that children simply do not have the visual acuity to recognise the speed of approaching vehicles based on their "looming". This also falls off in later years for the elderly to the extent that both groups find it difficult to distinguish between an approaching car at 20mph or 40mph.

The same trials showed that for an approaching motorbike it was between 20mph and 60mph because the smaller frontal area gave far less ability to assess looming.


Clearly if we wish such road users to continue their active and independent mobility in communities then due allowance needs to be made.
Rod King, Cheshire 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (14) | Disagree (3)

Yes, all road users have a responsibility for their own actions but, as I have said before, it is the ones in control of the motorised vehicle that must assume ultimate responsibility for their actions as it is they (it includes us!) who can do the most damage to other, more vulnerable road users due, fairly obviously to our vehicles' speed/weight/momentum/bulk etc. - not the other way around. Peds, cyclists and horseriders can be careless, but that doesn't mean we have to inevitably collide with them. Defensive driving is the key.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (20) | Disagree (2)

Picking up on Rod, Hugh and other's points on culpability, I think it is more a case of responsibility.

It cannot be assumed that a child will make consistently correct decisions regarding their safety. Therefore, as adult road users it should be our responsibility to expect them to get it wrong rather than presume they will get it right.

In Sweden I believe they apply this principle for all children under 12. It does not mean we should stop teaching children younger than this how to keep themselves safe, but it means we should equally concentrate on teaching adults to ensure the safety of children.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

Agree (18) | Disagree (0)

My criticism stems from your relentless attempts to pretend that road safety is simple "how can drivers avoid children/pedestrians", "20's plenty", "speed limit is a safe speed", "the laws of physics".

As others have said, we all have responsibilities for road safety - drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders, and so on. To single out drivers will lead to a sub-optimum solution.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (10) | Disagree (14)

When you map the child Ksi figures with deprivation and other key background features you can see where the focus should be. A generalism for sure, but very close to the mark.
Olly, Lancs

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

Wow. Its's really amazing how my simple observation that "motor vehicles aren't driverless" has been followed by such criticism.
Rod King, Cheshire 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (14) | Disagree (3)

Hugh is right to suggest we shouldn't read too much into these statistics as they are simple frequency counts. There are many other factors that haven't been taken into account (e.g. exposure to traffic, population figures, social class, amount of parental supervision, competence of all road users involved in the incident etc.). Statistics from collisions may give a broad indication of some trends but are not robust enough to draw conclusions.
Dr James Whalen DSA ADI (car), Wolverhampton-

Agree (14) | Disagree (0)

I think there is a danger in reading too much into statistics and looking for significance in something that isn’t there. Road accidents and the demographic of those who suffer are random – they can happen anytime, anywhere and whilst knowing who, where, when, gender and age may be of academic interest, this sort of data inevitably fluctuates and can be a red herring. What it boils down to is that all the accidents comprising the data would have been the result of one or more road users making a mistake, borne out of carelessness and/or recklessness.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

Rod King's campaigning has long used slogans of the type "Hit a child/pedestrian at XXmph ..." That has never sounded like the right basis for any road safety strategy.
Any campaign that reminds young people to be alert when near roads (with traffic at ANY speed) gets my vote. Of course drivers need to be alert and responsible too, but we need to ensure everyone acquires and develops a sense of self-preservation.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (19) | Disagree (11)

This is a very misleading headline when in fact child KSIs have reduced 27% from 2006 to 2011.

The fact that the proportion of them that are pedestrians has risen is down to the fact that the in car KSIs have fallen 36% in the 5 years. Perhaps a more reasonable headline may have been "child pedestrian KSIs fall slightly less quickly than child in car KSIs".

The only increase in real terms is the female under 8 pedestrians which have risen by 24 KSIs since 2006.
Matthew, Merseyside

Agree (22) | Disagree (0)

Typical 'always blame the driver' answer from Rod King. This is the man that wants to turn most of our road system into one giant children's playground.
Terry Hudson

Agree (12) | Disagree (25)

Why blame one type of road user? Everyone has a part to play in road safety. "If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem". Let's all work together to reduce these needless casualties on our roads.
Right Road NW

Agree (23) | Disagree (6)

I think we should remember that for every one of those 32,000 child casualties there was an adult in control of the vehicle involved.

Maybe we should "Ask not what the child can do to avoid the car, but what the driver can do to avoid the child" when considering this report.
Rod King, Cheshire 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (28) | Disagree (14)

Yet Oxfordshire County Council are trying to change school transport policies to a) force more children to walk to school by reassessing previously 'unsafe walking routes' and deeming them safe and b) to take away or charge for buses for children to their own catchment schools thus adding more cars to the roads. So we will not only have more children on the roads, we will have more cars!
Sue, near Banbury

Agree (10) | Disagree (1)

These road deaths may have been reduced by a patented PedSALi “smart” car bumper that was stiff for impacts with other vehicles, soft for adult pedestrian impacts, and even softer for child impacts. Unfortunately academic jealousy prevented the smart bumper from being developed.
Bill Courtney Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

The ten year high in relation to child casualties that this report highlights is very worrying considering so much education, training and publicity material aimed at this group has and continues to be developed in isolation.

There are many credible award winning road safety resources out there that deal with the areas that the report flags up. These resources have a proven track record and are available!

Perhaps the time is now right for RSGB and other like minded groups to engage in discussions with government to investigate setting up a national road safety organisation similar to the hugely successful Road Safety Scotland (RSS).

RSS through the constituent members has funded and delivered well researched child road safety education programs. These long term initiatives involving both the public and private sector stretch back to 1986. These interventions have assisted in reducing child casualties in Scotland from a high of over 5,000 in 1985 to around 1,300 in 2011.

It would appear that Scotland is reaping the benefits of having a life long, cohesive and progressive road safety education programme that is delivering results.

DfT should take note of findings of the AXA report and Stop, Look, Listen and THINK! about a new inclusive long term way forward.
Bill, Glasgow

Agree (26) | Disagree (2)