Hot on the heels of the recent Think! campaign to improve children’s road safety awareness comes a fresh indicator that road safety is one of the most important issues in the public consciousness.

The new Road Safety Survey from prominent sustainable transport charity and lobbyist Sustrans suggests very strongly that road safety is a bigger concern for more parents than any other single worry, including ‘Stranger Danger’.

So why is this?

Genuine Danger Vs. Perceived Danger

While terror over the threat of strangers dominates most mainstream media outlets, in reality children are at greater threat from people who they know personally rather than complete strangers. In fact, it’s because attacks by complete strangers are so rare and unpredictable that they attract so much attention!

The fear of perceived dangers such as those posed by strangers has decreased over time as few people have had exposure to attacks in real life. In addition, ever since edgy satirical comedy shows like Monkey Dust and Brass Eye took aim at these concerns in the late ’90s and early ’00s, the influence that ‘stranger danger’ has had on day-to-day life has been seen as fodder for comedians.

As the risk posed by terror attacks in the UK fades from public memory, parents may be thinking more about the risks that they can see every day.

Sobering Statistics

With as many as 41% of parents saying that their child has had a near-miss going to or from school, road accidents are something which many people have direct experience with. That makes road safety a pressing concern – and one which parents will likely discuss at the school gate.

With that in mind, it’s almost shocking that there aren’t more parents rating road safety as their biggest fear. 44% of parents say their biggest concern is their child’s road safety, compared with only 28% ranking strangers so high.

Meanwhile, between one and two thousand children are seriously injured while walking or cycling each year due to poor levels of road safety in the United Kingdom alone, and of those children a significant minority (around 1-2%) are killed.

Activists say that this tragic situation could be improved with some or all of the following steps:

  • Better awareness among drivers
  • Higher priority for pedestrians and cyclists on mixed roads, or better segregation of pedestrians/cyclists and vehicles
  • Better awareness among pedestrians and cyclists of safety measures they can take (especially safety gear such as clothing and reflective vests)
  • More pedestrians and cyclists on the road

Many safe bike users
Image by Tejvan Pettinger

Shockingly, one in twenty parents surveyed said that their child had been hit by a car.

Measures Being Taken

Already, many city councils are taking substantial measures to improve road safety and encourage people to travel using sustainable methods of transport.

Slower roads, improved services for cyclists and extensive pedestrianised areas are all methods which have been successfully used in the United Kingdom to slow, control and manage traffic.

There are still, clearly, many more steps to take. It’s not just sustainable transport methods that need road safety protection, either!

As Motorcyclist Awareness Month demonstrates, many vulnerable road users could benefit from additional measures and from laws which properly punish the victims of reckless drivers.

What do you think about these survey results? Get in touch at @loyaltylaw on Twitter!