Last month, the tragic death of teenager, Harry Dunn, made headlines because of the involvement of the wife of a US diplomat in the incident. Whilst this fact alone elevated the story to one of national interest, the startling statistics are, that every 20 minutes, someone is killed or seriously injured on a British road. That’s 3 people an hour, 72 people a day, 504 a week and just over 26,000 per year. That’s too many lives which are devastated or destroyed when each of these tragedies is fundamentally preventable. So, isn’t it time we all stood up to do something to make our streets and roads safer?
The Road safety charity, Brake, has the goal of “zero road deaths and injuries”. It organises a Road Safety Week annually and this year, the week runs from the 18th to 24th November. The aim is to “inspire thousands of schools, organisations and communities to take action on road safety and promote life-saving messages during the week and beyond.” The week also helps road safety professionals boost awareness of their work and gives them a great opportunity to get out into communities to involve local people in their work too. As well as organising Road Safety Week, Brake also offers support to victims of road accidents including bereavement advice and a free national helpline on 0808 8000 401.
The theme for 2019 is “Step up for Safe Streets” focusing attention and education on some of “the amazing design-led solutions that will allow us all to get around in safe and healthy ways every day.”
What are safe and healthy journeys and what can we do to step up?
Safe journeys can happen when we design our road networks so that human error doesn’t result in accidents and death and there are systems already in place to promote this, such as cycle lanes, speed limit warnings and technology to make vehicles safer.
Promoting healthy journeys means finding ways to ensure that walking, running or cycling to our destination does not increase the risk of injury or death, as well as making sure that the air we breathe is free of pollutants. This needs policymakers to prioritise safer travel and vehicle manufacturers to reduce emissions. But on a simple level, even holding hands with a young person while out walking reduces risk.
Stepping up means celebrating and promoting safe solutions so that we can all enjoy a safer and healthier future. It’s a call to action for everyone to get involved, including:
- Nurseries, schools and educational establishments
- Organisations and workplaces
- Designers of road transport infrastructures and related industries
- Emergency service professionals
- Governments and NGOs
What can you do as a nursery professional?
It’s never too early to teach road safety to children. In fact, we would be neglecting our duty if we didn’t. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there to help you, including: activity ideas, lesson plans, downloadable posters, banners, participation certificates, activity ideas as well as films and stories related to the topic. Quite frankly, there’s something for everyone!
Introducing Zak the zebra
For nursery-aged children, Brake have a new website which features ‘Zak’, a friendly zebra who can help bring this topic to life for younger students. You can access lots of free resources at www.brakezebras.org including information about holding your own ‘Beep Beep! Day. There’s also a bumper resource pack that you can get for only £11.50 plus VAT. You can register events and activities and it’s not just restricted to Road Safety Week – you can run a Beep Beep! day any time of the year.
Here are some of the things that Brake suggest you teach your children to get them started with road safety:
Be a good role model
Being a good model reinforces the importance of road safety to young children – if adults wear seatbelts and cycle/motorbike helmets, then the children will follow their example. Other good habits to model are:
Using crossings correctly
- Using cycle paths and footpaths where available
- Knowing and using the Highway Code
- Being trained in first aid
Talk about road safety
You can talk to everyone about road safety; the children in your care are obviously one main group, but have you considered talking directly to professionals in the field, or your neighbours and friends in person and via social media?
Become a campaigner
There will always be something that needs improving in your local area to do with road safety – it could be a lower speed limit, safer crossings, cleaner air or prioritising cycle paths and footpaths. Think about what needs to happen in your own area to make things safer and move everyone towards the goal of zero road traffic deaths and injuries.
Raise money for Brake
Brake works with bereaved families when the unthinkable happens and lives are lost. They help people come to terms with their grief and overcome their loss. As local counselling services have declined in the past few years due to budget pressures, charities such as Brake are more important than ever.
Other ways to get involved
Thousands of people take part in Road Safety Week each year and there are numerous ways that you can get involved as an individual, a nursery setting or a local community. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Create a road safety display in your setting
- Make a giant banner for outside
- Hold a cake sale – you could make some traffic-light cakes, or some fairy cakes decorated like road signs
- Encourage children to cycle, scoot or walk to your session, wearing the correct safety gear of course
- Run a session about road safety. You’ll find lots of ideas about what to teach at www.brake.org.uk/educators
- Dress up in stripes for the day like Zak the zebra and share your photos using the hashtag #WearYourStripesDay
- Arrange a visit from a local road safety professional
- Whatever you do, do it safely and have fun!