Schools pupils in the north and north-east are joining a nationwide march calling for improved road safety to protect hundreds of children killed or injured on Scotland’s roads each year.
Findings recorded by the Department of Transport found on average 19 children are killed or injured in traffic incidents each week.
The Highlands have recorded among the highest number of child casualties in the country with an average of between 37 and 38 incidents taking place each year since 2015.
Meanwhile, Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles have recorded an average of two incidents each year.
In the north-east, Aberdeenshire has also seen a rise in incidents since 2019, increasing from an average of 23 annually to 30.
This arose despite a reduction from 20 to 8 between 2017 to 2018.
Councillor Peter Argyle, Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee chairman, said: “I am pleased to see the number of child casualties in Aberdeenshire have fallen during 2017 to 2019, even though one is too many.
“Our transportation team work with schools to not only educate children and young people about the importance of road safety but also to improve areas around schools making school drop off and collection as safe as possible.”
Aberdeen also recorded an annual average of 19 incidents.
Hundreds of children knocked down each year
The figures are just a fraction of the 948 child casualties recorded across Scotland over the course of the last 12 months.
The highest number of incidents occurred in Glasgow and Edinburgh, with 143 and 103 casualties each year.
Findings from the study have been released in conjunction with the roll-out of road safety charity Brake’s campaign.
Around 1,500 young people are now preparing to take to the streets in support of Brake’s Kids Walk to campaign for improved road safety measures.
The campaign arises just weeks after a nine-year-old boy was struck by a car outside his school in Kinloss.
Protecting children’s rights
Scott Williams, head of programme delivery said: “It’s every child’s right to be able to walk in their community without fear of traffic and pollution.”
“Throughout the pandemic families have taken to the streets on foot and by bike and we hope these activities will continue as restrictions lift and ordinary road traffic returns.
“It is vital that children are able to walk safely in the places where they live.
“Although numbers of children killed or injured in Scotland shows positive signs of decline, every road death or injury is one too many and causes devastation for families, schools and communities.
“This year we hope to inspire as many children, schools and families as possible to call for safe and healthy journeys for children through our Brake’s Kids Walk event.”
Kinloss Primary incidents sparks campaign
The recent figures also highlighted that on average nine children in the Moray region are victims of road traffic accidents each year, sparking concerns with local representatives
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead spoke of the importance of safeguarding children’s welfare as young people embrace active travel.
He said: “As more children and families choose to make the journey to school on foot or by bike, road safety is increasingly important and I know that in Moray parents are keen to ensure that local concerns are looked at seriously by the authorities.”
The campaign by road safety charity Brake comes just weeks after new safety measures were introduced at Kinloss Primary after a nine-year-old boy was hit by a car as he crossed the busy B9089 road.
A 68-year-old man was charged in connection with the incident which took place last month.
New measures have now been introduced at the school to help improve safety for attending pupils.
Alternative entry and exit points from the premises through the grounds of Kinloss barracks have been secured, with help from the 39 Engineer regiment.
Hedges will also be shorn down to increase visibility.
MP Douglas Ross said “one child injured, is one too many” and urged drivers to take care on the roads.
He said: “Here in Moray, there has been an average of nine children injured on our roads in recent years. One child injured by traffic is one too many and I have seen for myself the trauma that this can cause.
“We all owe it to our children to take extra care when driving, especially near schools, and as parents to teach our youngsters about keeping safe when they are crossing roads.”
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Brake’s Kids Walk 2021
Short, supervised walks will take place at or around schools and nurseries today calling for five key measures to enable children to make safe and healthy journeys: footpaths, cycle paths, safe places to cross, slow traffic and clean traffic.
Children will walk in a crocodile formation and hold hands to highlight the importance of being able to walk without fear or threat from traffic.
The campaign is being launched by esure.
David McMillan, chief executive at esure Group added: “We are thrilled to have partnered with Brake to sponsor this year’s event as we believe in the importance of road safety for children everywhere.
“We want to be a force for good and make a real difference by focusing on better and safer driving. Brake’s Kids Walk is an important opportunity to raise awareness about road safety messages.”
Schools can also run special road-safety-themed assemblies, lessons and fun activities, using free resources from Brake and featuring Shaun the Sheep and his friends. Resources are available to any parent, carer or teacher to download for free at www.brake.org.uk/kidswalk.