Poignant video that says: speed does kill

The assembled press was silent as the television screen went blank, and the minister, Steven Norris, was fighting back tears as he tried to speak. No one could disagree when he finally managed to blurt out that "this is the most powerful advertisement ever seen on British television".

The new advertisements, which are the latest instalment in a five-year campaign against speeding drivers, have broken new ground by showing home video footage of children who were later killed in road accidents near their homes. The images of happy children at home and on holiday, a couple of them even waving goodbye as if knowing their fate, are the backdrop to readings of poems about death by WH Auden (whose Funeral Blues appears below), Christina Rossetti and Walter de la Mare. At the end, it is revealed that all the children were killed in road accidents. The result is incalculably more effective than the sleek advertisements with actors used in the past.

The videos of six children - Laura, just 6 weeks old, Tracy, aged 6, Adam, 7, Andrew, 11, William, 11, and Donna, 13 - are all being used with the permission of the parents as part of a pounds 1.7m campaign that will be running this month. It also includes a series of radio advertisements featuring the voices of relatives of the children. The parents were traced by the advertising agency, Abbott Mead Vickers, through local council road safety officers, but have been promised anonymity.

Mr Norris, the roads minister, who asked that the families be left alone with their grief, said the youngsters had all been killed near their homes and all within 30mph speed limit zones. He stressed that the campaign was not aimed at "boy racers" who were unlikely to change their habits, but at "Mr and Mrs average responsible citizen" who did not understand the dangers of speeding in urban areas.

He said that over 1,200 people - a third of the total road deaths toll, including 160 child pedestrians - were killed and over 100,000 people injured in 1995 in speed-related crashes.

RoadPeace, the national charity representing victims of crashes, said advertising campaigns did "little on their own to cut speeds". The organisation is calling for a 20mph limit in built-up areas, on-board speed limiters on new vehicles and tougher speed enforcement.

Mr Norris said that while over 200 20mph zones had been established in the past five years, a blanket introduction in urban areas would be counter-productive because it would be widely ignored on roads where "it seemed inappropriate".

Edmund King, head of campaigns at the RAC, welcomed the campaign and said: "Physical traffic-calming has grown with the spread of cameras and road humps, but what we really need is mental traffic-calming in the minds of a minority of drivers."

Attitude problem 12pt

People regard drinking and driving as a crime as serious as armed robbery, but consider urban speeding less serious than TV licence evasion, according to a Department Of Transport survey yesterday.

Speeding was seen as extremely serious by 52 per cent, but only 33 per cent thought doing 40mph in a 30mph limit was extremely serious, compared with 42 per cent who thought evading the TV licence was.

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policeman wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, My East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.

WH Auden

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?