Hot Topic: Schools Death Trap?
Are the roads around our schools an accident waiting to happen?
when we drop our kids at school, we trust they’ll be safe. Yet, every month, over 1,000 are injured on the roads around British schools.
This is the frightening statistic highlighted in an in-depth study by Road Safety Analysis.
In June, an 11-year-old boy was airlifted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital after suffering life-threatening injuries outside his school.
A month before, a girl suffered serious head injuries after being hit by a car outside her school in Surrey.
And, in September last year, 5-year-old Lennon Toland was struck by a van and killed on his way home from primary school in Glasgow. Public Health England’s analysis of police-reported road-casualty data over a fiveyear period between 2008 and 2012 showed that the largest number of child injuries occur between 8am and 9am and between 3pm and 7pm – at the beginning and end of the school day.
Areas around schools often have a 20-30mph speed limit but, in a survey conducted by road-safety charity Brake, more than half of motorists admitted to driving faster than 25mph in a 20mph zone. David Nichols from Brake said, ‘All children have the right to play safely and live a healthy life without fear. Yet, in the UK – one of the most developed countries in the world – our children are often denied these rights because of the lethal danger posed by fast traffic.’ More councils seem to be taking steps to address the risk. This July, Croydon became the latest
London borough to start fining parents £130 for driving near the school gates, and a similar scheme operates in Hackney, east London.
Think!, the Department of Transport road-safety experts, campaigns tirelessly to teach about the dangers of the roads.
Others are taking the situation into their own hands.
Heartbroken mother Melanie Talbot, 45, lost her son Ashley, 15, in December 2014, when he was struck by a school minibus in school grounds.
She hopes a law will be passed to prevent further tragedies. Ashley’s Law would enforce a 5mph speed limit within school grounds and outside the gates.
She also wants tougher penalties for drivers who park dangerously close to the gates.
Melanie, from Port Talbot, said, ‘I don’t want any other parents to have to go to view their child in a mortuary.
‘The last thing I see when I go to sleep, if I sleep, is Ashley in the mortuary.’
Since Ashley’s death in December 2014, Bridgend council and the school have both been working to try to improve road safety.
They are investing in a CCTV unit to help catch and fine drivers parking and driving dangerously outside the school.
‘Kids are supposed to be protected in school,’ said Melanie. ‘We never went into this saying our son was completely innocent – he was a kid running for the back seat of the bus. But with a few improvements, schools can be made a hell of a lot safer.
‘It’s deemed an accident, but we have to live with this.’
Melanie – who is also battling breast cancer – says she still feels upset by the amount of dangerous parking and driving she sees outside other schools.
Like in so many of these cases, no-one was breaking the law when Ashley was hit. But children are still dying. So it’s easy to agree with Melanie. It’s the law that needs to change – and the sooner the better.
Children are still dying. The law needs to change – and soon
Melanie lost her son Ashley
Tragedy: Lennon Toland was only 5