Brake calls for 20mph speed limits around schools

Brake is calling for 20mph speed limits to be implemented around all schools in the UK, as parents report roads aren’t safe for their children to walk to school.

According to new research published by Brake
, parents and carers across the country say they don’t walk their children to school every day because roads are too busy (36%) and cars go too fast (25%). Compounding this, nearly two-thirds (64%) of parents say their school doesn’t have 20mph speed limits on all surrounding roads.

More than 110,000 children (aged 4-11) from more than 720 schools and nurseries are taking part in Brake’s Kids Walk today, calling for their right to make safe and healthy journeys without fear or threat from traffic.

To coincide with the launch of the walk, Brake has highlighted the true extent of child casualties on the nation’s roads (see Table 1).

Latest official figures show that 11,580 children aged 15 or under were killed or injured on roads in the UK in 2021; an average taken from the last five years gives a figure of 13,503 [1]. This means that, on average, 37 children die or suffer injuries as a result of road crashes every single day. Provisional figures for 2022 show that 48 children died on roads in the UK, or one child almost every week [2,3].

At Dropmore Infant School in Buckinghamshire, parents have reported passing traffic ripping off a car door when they dropped their children off at school; meanwhile children have to walk on roads exposed to speeding traffic because there are no pavements.

Dropmore sits at a T-junction in Littleworth, a village sandwiched between Slough and junction 2 of the M40. The speed limit on nearby roads is 60mph, and although it reduces to 30mph outside the school, there are areas with no pavement, no crossing patrol, and very few designated parking spaces. A local Community Speedwatch group has recorded cars speeding past the school at an average of 38mph, with the highest speed recorded in front of the school being 54mph.

Headteacher Gitta Streete has been campaigning for the speed limit to be reduced to 20mph for many years. “What we often hear back is that because no one has been seriously hurt or killed on that road, there is no need to make any changes,” she says.

“One parent had their car door taken off by a passing car,” Streete continues. “That could easily have been a child, parent or carer being hit. What we need is a proper, phased speed reduction system: a reduction to 20mph outside the school and safe areas for everyone to walk along and cross the road. Thankfully, no one has been hurt yet, but road safety measures should not be solely left to the school to enact.”

Dropmore Infant School has a platinum-level accreditation for road safety from the Modeshift STARS programme [4], and as part of its tireless campaigning to make roads near the school safer, the school has signed up to take part in Brake’s Kids Walk – an annual schools walk coordinated by road safety charity Brake, and sponsored by esure.

The 110,000 schoolchildren taking part in Brake’s Kids Walk will complete a short, supervised walk around their schools and/or communities. They will carry banners and posters, provided by Brake, to help raise awareness of the five things they need to help keep them safe near roads: slower traffic, cleaner traffic, better footpaths, better cycle paths, and safe places to cross.

Lucy Straker, campaigns manager at Brake, says: “Sadly, we know that Dropmore’s situation is being replicated across the country. We speak to lots of schools where teachers are doing everything they can to make the roads near their school safe, but ultimately they need support from their local council and decision-makers. Why do we have to wait until a child is killed before we act?

“We know that excess speed is a factor in about a quarter of fatal crashes [5], and the physics is pretty straightforward: the faster a vehicle is travelling, the harder it hits and the greater the impact. A crash at 30mph has twice the amount of kinetic energy as a crash at 20mph. Reducing speed saves lives.

“As schools up and down the country take part in Brake’s Kids Walk to shout out for safe places to walk, with slow traffic, we’re calling for roads around every school to have 20mph speed limits – and other measures to effectively reduce traffic speed – so children and their families can travel safely to and from school every day.”


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