Children are putting their safety at risk by being distracted by their phones when crossing the road, according to a report published today.
Despite a reduction in the number of children involved in road accidents in recent years, levels remain high – at more than 2,400 victims a year.
And the proportion of those which are under five is at its highest in a decade, says the AXA RoadSafe report. One in seven children killed or injured are under five (14 per cent) compared to one in 10 (11 per cent) in 2001. This equates to more than 300 children each year.
There is a need for road safety education, particularly among primary age school children, and this should include the responsible use of mobile phones and other handheld gadgets, says the report.
Pupils starting secondary school account for a third [32 per cent] of accidents during the school run.
“Today, an 11-year-old pedestrian is three times more likely to be killed or seriously injured during the school run than a 10-year-old. This is an increase from twice as likely 10 years ago,” states the report.
A spokesman from Road Safety GB called on parents to “warn children of the potential distractions and dangers mobiles can cause” and added: “Texting, playing games and making calls can be lethal to a child near the road.”
And Dan Campsall, of Road Safety Analysis, said: “The need to educate our children about managing their journeys, including the potential distraction of devices such as mobile phones, must remain a priority.”
Case study: 'I'm always using at least one of my phone or mp3 player'
Philip Williams, 14, of Liverpool, said: "I don't leave the house without at least two pieces of technology - my mobile phone and my mp3 player. And whether riding my bike or walking, I'm using at least one of them. It's probably not too sensible but it's what all my mates do too. I check for messages every few minutes when travelling to and from school so I've had a few close shaves when crossing roads because of it.
"I remember a few weeks ago when I had my earphones in and was in the middle of a text when I casually checked the road and there was a car in the distance. I didn't think much of it until the guy started beeping me so I had to run across the road pretty quickly. That wasn't the first time it had happened so after that, I now take my earphones out and properly look out for traffic particularly when at busy roads."
Philip went on to say, "Leaving school is the worst time of the day for it because everyone immediately gets their phone out to check for messages. There are hundreds of kids at our school and loads of cars so I know a few friends who have also almost been hit by a car because they are messing with their phones or mp3 players."