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Thousands of children take to the streets to march for safer roads

Thousands of children in Scotland will be taking part in a national march to call for safer roads (Patrick Bolger/PA)
Thousands of children in Scotland will be taking part in a national march to call for safer roads (Patrick Bolger/PA)

More than 4,000 children will walk the streets near their schools to raise awareness for the need for safer roads.

A total of 491 child road casualties were recorded in 2020 across Scotland, according to the latest Department for Transport (DfT) figures.

An average taken from the last five years gives a figure of 788, which means some 15 children are killed or injured on the roads in the country every week, according to road safety charity Brake.

Those taking part in the march, aged between four and 11, are among more than 90,000 pupils across the UK from more than 600 schools uniting in the national event which will take place on Wednesday.

The day has been organised by Brake in partnership with insurance group esure and with support from Aardman.

Dubbed Brake’s Kids Walk, the event will see “Shaun the Sheep and his flock” help young people learn key road safety messages and call on grown-ups to make roads safer so more children can enjoy walking, riding or scooting to school.

Participants will take part in short, supervised walks at or around schools and nurseries, carrying banners and posters provided by Brake to help raise awareness of the five things the charity claims children need to help keep them safe near roads: footpaths, cycle paths, safe places to cross, slow traffic and clean traffic.

In Scotland, Glasgow and Edinburgh report the most child road casualties, with 115 and 80 casualties respectively each year on average, according to figures released by Brake.

The heavily populated regions of North and South Lanarkshire come next, reporting 62 and 51 casualties in an average year, followed by Fife, 51.

The lowest figures for child road casualties are in Scotland’s islands, although the charity claims there was not one authority in Scotland that did not record a child road casualty in 2020.

In general, TfL data shows the numbers of child road casualties have steadily declined in Scotland in recent years.

But Brake claims several local authorities have still not managed to reduce danger on their roads.

The charity said Dundee, East Ayrshire and Stirling all saw a significant percentage increase – more than 50% – in child road casualties in 2020.

Brake also noted that reported road casualties have been impacted by the national restrictions implemented from March 2020 onwards following the coronavirus pandemic.

Scott Williams, head of programme delivery at the charity, said: “It’s every child’s right to be able to walk in their community without fear of traffic and pollution.

“It is vital that children can walk safely in the places where they live.

“We’re delighted that so many children, schools and families are taking part in Brake’s Kids Walk 2022 and shouting out for the things they need to make safe journeys.”

Brake has provided schools with a “kids‘ manifesto” for safe journeys that they can use to help them ask local or national decision-makers to address road dangers.

David McMillan, chief executive at esure Group added: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Brake’s Kids Walk and to raise awareness of the importance of safer roads and cleaner air for schoolchildren across the UK.

“Brake’s Kids Walk is an important opportunity to raise awareness about road safety messages.”