AROUND 3,000 school children from across the West Midlands took to the streets around their schools last Wednesday, June 16 to raise awareness of the 33 children who are killed or injured on the region’s roads every week.
The children, aged between four and 11, were among more than 50,000 across the UK taking part in Brake’s Kids Walk with Shaun the Sheep.
The national project, run by road safety charity Brake in partnership with insurance company esure, sees Shaun and his flock help youngsters learn key road safety messages and call on their grown-ups to make roads safer, so more children can enjoy the health and planet-saving benefits of walking, cycling or scooting to school.
To coincide with the walk, road safety charity Brake highlighted the true extent of child casualties on West Midlands roads.
Latest Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that on average, 1,543 children were killed or injured on West Midlands roads in 2019, a slight rise on 2018 which registered 1,520 casualties.
Taking five-year averages across the region gives a figure of 1,700, or 33 children killed or injured on the roads each week.
The West Midlands is the only UK region to show a rise in casualties, with the national trend overall showing rates to be in a slow but steady decline.
Birmingham remains a UK hotspot for child road casualties, with 433 recorded in 2019, a 22 per cent decrease on its 2015 figure of 553. However, that still represents eight children per week dying or being injured on Birmingham’s roads in 2019.
The next highest rates in the region are Staffordshire (excluding Stoke on Trent) (120 in 2019) and Warwickshire (128 in 2019), although both local authorities have reduced their child road casualty rates over the past five years by 53 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. Worcestershire also reduced its child road casualty figure by 42 per cent to 103 casualties in 2019 over the same time period.
The campaign calls for five key measures to enable children to make safe and healthy journeys: footpaths, cycle paths, safe places to cross, slow traffic and clean traffic.
Resources are available to any parent, carer or teacher to download for free at www.brake.org.uk/kidswalk.