Shocking adverts lead safety drive

The Government yesterday committed itself to reducing child pedestrian deaths by a quarter over the next three years, possibly saving about 30 lives a year. But no new funds have been made available to help meet the target.

The announcement coincides with the relaunch of harrowing adverts showing home video footage of children revealed to have been killed in road accidents. Following the TV campaign earlier this year, the ad- verts will be shown in cinemas.

The new strategy attempts to place the onus on drivers, rather than children, to avoid accidents. Yesterday, John Bowis, the roads minister, said: "In the majority of incidences, motor- ists should be able to anticipate situations of potential danger better than a child."

The advice in the strategy report, Child pedestrian safety in the UK, published yesterday, says: "The key message to drivers should be that they would not expect error-free behaviour from children in any other walk of life, and that they must make allowances."

While the UK generally has a good pedestrian safety record compared with its European neighbours, its annual average of 1.3 deaths per 100,000 children is nearly 50 per cent higher than the European average of 0.9. In 1995, 132 child pedestrians were killed and 4,300 seriously injured on roads. The high rate is attributed partly to the higher percentage of children living in urban areas compared with Europe, but is also thought to be due to a lack of town traffic-calming measures.

The report says it would cost pounds 2.3bn to create enforced 20mph zones in 80 per cent of suitable urban roads, but that the savings annually would be about pounds 2.1bn in reduced accidents - on DoT estimates of pounds 812,010 for a death and pounds 92,570 for a serious injury.

But while the Government accepts that the 300 20mph zones have cut casualties by over a half, Mr Bowis said he could not pledge an increase in funds.The extra pounds 1m to help fund zones would come from the existing road safety budget.

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