Sheffield has some of the most dangerous roads for kids
Sheffield’s roads are among England’s most dangerous for children, with more serious accidents than almost anywhere else.
Charities say more needs to be done to make the nation’s roads safer, and stop the “tragedy” of young lives blighted by car accidents.
Figures from Public Health England and the Department for Transport show that 113 under-16s were killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Sheffield in the three years from 2016 to 2018.
At a rate of 35.9 incidents per 100,000 children, that is one of the highest figures in England, which had an average of 17.7 incidents.
Barnsley, in Yorkshire, has the highest rate, at 52.5 incidents.
The rate in Sheffield is now at its highest level since PHE’s records began in 2008-10.
Across the country, 5,665 children were killed or seriously injured on the roads in 2016-18.
That is the highest level for five years, although it has fallen from 7,325 in 2008-10.
The Department for Transport warns some police forces have changed their definition of a serious injury, meaning national figures may not be comparable with previous years.
Road safety charity Brake said it was a “tragedy” that so many children are still hurt or killed on the roads.
A spokesman said: “Every child should have the right to be able to play out and walk or cycle to school in their community without fear of traffic and pollution.
“But many are unable to do so because of dangerous driving around schools and a lack of access to simple measures such as footpaths, cycle paths or safe places to cross.
“We need to see safer speeds, particularly around schools and on streets where children play, and greater investment in segregated cycle paths and footpaths to help keep children safe on our roads.”
Public Health England says parents cite the speed and volume of traffic as reasons they do not allow their children to walk or cycle, which it says is reducing opportunities for physical exercise.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said it has “consistently called on the Government to increase its efforts to reduce pedestrian casualties involving children”.
Nick Lloyd, head of road safety for the charity, said: “Walking to school provides excellent daily exercise, which should be encouraged and allows parents or carers the opportunity to teach children valuable lifesaving road safety skills.
“There should also be a greater emphasis on schools providing pedestrian training in primary schools to prepare children as they move up to high school.”
A DfT spokeswoman said: “The death of any child on our roads is a tragedy and we express our deepest sympathies to the families who have sadly lost loved ones.
“We’ve empowered local authorities to help deliver road safety measures – such as the introduction of appropriate speed limits – and we’re using new technology and research to educate children about the dangers on our roads.”
Cabinet member for Transport and Development at Sheffield City Council, Councillor Robert Johnson said: “Road safety remains a key priority for the council and a number of measures are in place across the city to reduce the risk of accidents on our roads.
“Since 2012, the council has implemented a policy to reduce the speed limits in residential areas to 20mph as well as undertaking a comprehensive review of every school entrance in the city. This work resulted in a programme of enforceable parking restrictions around school entrances as a way to help improve pedestrian visibility and safety.
“The Council’s Road Safety Team work proactively with over 35 Primary schools each year and over 50 School Crossing Patrol Wardens provide safer crossing points across busy and potentially dangerous roads for pupils on their journey to and from school.
“Last year, central government established the Transport Select Committee with a remit to investigate a nationwide ban of pavement parking, which can contribute to road incidents. The council requested that Government create a new offence of “obstructive parking” that would be enforced by the Council Civil Enforcement officers. However, whilst this is under consideration, our ability to deal with obstructive parking is limited.
“In addition, The Council has also recently piloted a ‘School Street’ initiative in two schools, which temporarily closed roads outside both schools at opening and closing times to encourage safer, greener and healthier travel.
“Ultimately, we all have a duty to ensure we travel around the city safely, and that means adhering to speed limit restrictions and taking extra care around busy pedestrian areas. No child should ever be put at risk when walking to and from school and we continue to work with all our partners to ensure our road safety measures are robust and reflect best practice.”