Every year, thousands of children take part in Beep Beep! Day. This is a Road Safety awareness campaign specifically targeting children aged between 2-7. It is organised and promoted by Brake the Road Safety Charity. Brake's work is invaluable in supporting people affected by road crashes and campaigning for safe, healthy mobility for all through community partnerships and campaigns.
This campaign is slightly different given that it is targeted at such a young age group. There is a section of their website - Brake Zebras designed for children which has plenty of fun activities, stories and activities children can engage with, along with their families, carers or teachers.
In my own community, March is an ideal time to focus on Road Safety for children as our streets are transformed into a giant game, called Beat The Street. The idea is that you walk or cycle to various boxes around the local area, and you gain points for each box you reach. Community groups, teams and schools compete against each other to win the most points and so the streets in my area have become very busy with a lot of competitive people! Being out and about is a great time to discuss Road Safety with children and raise awareness of the dangers which are out there.
Sadly, every day 6 children are killed or seriously injured on roads in the UK. Road crashes remain the leading cause of death for young people aged 5 to 29 with someone being killed on a road every 24 seconds and someone being injured on a UK road every 4 minutes. These are shocking statistics, especially when the majority of these deaths are entirely preventable. To help prevent this, even the youngest children need to know about the dangers of traffic. Only if that danger can be minimised, are families able to walk and cycle safely in their community, which in turn promotes health and wellbeing.
This is one of the motivators for the changes to the Highway Code which took effect from 29 January 2022 and aims to increase safety for all road users. These changes introduced a hierarchy of road users which means that those road users who can cause the most harm, have a greater responsibility to reduce the danger they pose to others. Therefore, drivers are responsible for cyclists' safety and, in turn, cyclists are responsible for pedestrians' safety. This is in stark contrast to the previous situation where all road users, from children and lorry drivers, were equally responsible for their own safety.
Following the changes to the Highway Code, pedestrians and cyclists have more priority over drivers. Whilst previously motorists only had to give way to pedestrians once they stepped on to a zebra crossing, the updated Code strengthens pedestrians' priority when on pavements and when crossing or waiting to cross the road. Motorists and cyclists also now required to give way to pedestrians when turning at junctions if they are crossing or waiting to cross the road.
It is important that all road users take the time to understand these new rules and adapt their habits to comply with the Code. In the event that an accident occurs and the road user was found not to be compliant with the Code, they would likely be held liable for the accident.
The changes have been welcomed by Safety groups, albeit they do stop short of liability automatically attaching to drivers who are involved in accidents with cyclists and pedestrians. Nevertheless, the changes have increased the much needed protection of more vulnerable road users, and particularly our little people.
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