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LESSONS FOR UK ROAD SAFETY

In 2002 the UK Department for Transport commissioned the project Children’s Road Traffic Safety: An International Survey of Policy and Practice (see News and Notes in the October 2004 issue of Injury Prevention) to complement the report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Child Traffic Safety Expert Group. The aim of the survey was to provide basic high level data, on a consistent basis, from OECD member countries that identified and accounted for current patterns of child road safety as pedestrians, vehicle occupants or bicyclists, and that identified current best practices and countermeasures in place to improve child road safety. A further report, Children’s Traffic Safety: International Lessons for the UK, addressing the lessons to be learned for the UK from this survey of international policy and practice was published in August 2004.

The key findings suggest that the UK has adopted good practice in a number of areas but that current practice needs strengthening. A more widespread approach to modifying the environment is required in the UK to improve the safety of children as pedestrians or bicyclists, and barriers to implementation need to be overcome. Clearer guidelines are needed for implementing low speed limits near schools and in identifying these areas as enforcement zones.

In the UK there is a steep social gradient in child pedestrian fatalities and at present there is no routine monitoring of the socioeconomic status of all road traffic casualties. These data are needed to assess whether inequality targets are being met. In terms of national profile, the UK does not compare favourably with most other OECD countries in terms of income distribution, relative child poverty, and the number of children living in one parent families in which the burden of poverty is high. Tackling the causes and effects of these …

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