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House of Commons Hansard
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Road Safety outside Wingate Primary School
29 October 2019
Volume 667

The petition of Community of Wingate Primary School,

Declares that safer roads for children are essential and that the roads outside Wingate Primary School should be made more safe.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that the roads outside Wingate Primary School are made safer for its pupils and other people in the community.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Phil Wilson , Official Report, 24 July 2019; Vol. 663, c. 1405.]

[P002503]

Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton):

The Government are keenly aware of the impact of road traffic fatalities and injuries and the need to protect our most vulnerable, including children near schools, such as Wingate Primary School.

By internationally measured standards the UK has an excellent road safety record and a long history of success in encouraging safe behaviours from all those that use our roads. The number of people killed or injured on Britain’s roads has dropped by 31% from 2007 to 2017. In the same period there has also been a drop of 44% in the total number of children between 0 to 17 years old killed or injured on Britain’s roads. And in the area of County Durham, there has been a 37% drop in casualties of all ages and a 46% decrease in those aged 0-17 since 2007.

This Government are determined to make our roads even safer, which is why we are combining a range of focused measures to continue to improve road safety around schools.

Road Safety Statement

In July this year, the Department for Transport’s refreshed Road Safety Statement and two year action plan was published, which addresses road safety issues throughout the lifetime of roads users, from babies to the elderly. We will focus our work particularly on the needs of four vulnerable road user groups, including young road users, rural road users, motorcyclists, and older road users.

We want to embed a deeper understanding of road danger in school age children and have awarded funding of £200,000 to Road Safety GB to undertake a research and evaluation programme which addresses the needs of children aged 4 to 11 years old. A portion of this funding is to roll out an augmented reality (AR) road safety resource in primary schools across the UK designed to develop children’s road safety knowledge and skills.

THINK! Education resources for 3 to 16 year olds

We want to build road safety knowledge and skills among our younger generations, forming good habits that last a lifetime. The THINK! campaign provides free education resources online for 3 to 16 year olds. THINK! engaged parents, teachers, youth leaders and local road safety professionals in the development of these resources, which include films, songs and games to help children understand the importance of using the road safely. These resources can be accessed at: https://www.think.gov.uk/education-resources/.

Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) Safety Review

The Government are committed to increasing cycling and walking and making our roads safer for vulnerable users, including children. We will only achieve our long term ambition if children feel safe when they walk and cycle to and from school. Therefore, in November last year the Government’s response to the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) Safety Review Call for Evidence was published alongside an ambitious two year action plan, setting out 50 clear actions to tackle cycling, walking and horse riding safety.

Bikeability

Bikeability is the Government’s national cycle training programme designed to give people the skills and confidence to cycle safely and competently on local roads. It is underpinned by the National Standard for Cycle Training. Bikeability has funding of £50million to cover cycle training from 2016 to 2020.

Local authorities have bid to the Department for Transport for the training places they wish their schools to deliver across Levels 1-3 and Bikeability Plus. More than 2.6 million places have been delivered across the country since Bikeability started in 2007.

Walk to school

The Government have invested almost £3 million into the Walk to School programme, run by the charity Living Streets, since 2015 which aims to increase the number of children walking to school. Over 2017-18, 205 primary schools were involved in the programme with 14,254 more pupils and their parents walking to school. Walking to school rates increased across all schools by 30 per cent, rising from 59.5% at baseline to 77.2% at follow up.

Pavement parking

We are aware that parking on the pavement can cause serious problems for child pedestrians; particularly for wheelchair users or those with visual impairments, as well as for parents with prams or pushchairs.

Within London there is a statutory ban on pavement parking. Outside London, local authorities have powers to prohibit pavement parking by making Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. They may also use bollards to physically protect pavements.

Earlier in the year we completed a wide-ranging evidence gathering exercise on pavement parking to help us understand the problem, the effectiveness of current legislation and possible options for change. Before deciding on the way forward, we want to consider our findings alongside the conclusions of the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into pavement parking, published on the 9 September 2019.

Parking around schools

Under section 122 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, local authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide appropriate traffic management schemes for the roads they manage. They are free to make their own decisions about the streets under their care, provided they take account of the relevant legislation.

Local authorities can put in place “School Keep Clear” markings which are legally enforceable when used in conjunction with an upright road sign and a Traffic Regulation Order.

Local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers can enforce these restrictions by issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to any vehicles found parked in contravention.

Although there are certain restrictions on the use of CCTV by local authorities for parking enforcement, the Department for Transport has ensured that CCTV can continue to be used to enforce parking outside schools in order to protect children.

20 mph speed limits

Local authorities are responsible for setting speed limits on local roads. They have the flexibility to set local speed limits that are appropriate for the individual road, reflecting local needs and taking account of local considerations. The Department for Transport issued guidance to local highway authorities on setting local speed limits in 2013.

Local authorities have powers to introduce 20 mph speed limits that apply only at certain times of day. This may be suitable where, for example, a school is located on a road that is not suitable for a full-time 20 mph zone or limit. These limits are indicated with variable message signs.

Alternatively, authorities can now introduce an advisory part-time 20mph limit using traffic signs with flashing school warning lights. These were prescribed in 2016 and can be a more cost-effective solution, where appropriate, and reduce sign clutter.

Training

Changes made to the practical driving test in December 2017 are encouraging candidates to obtain a broader range of driver experience prior to their test. The independent driving section, where the candidate must drive for 20 minutes without detailed guidance by the examiner, provides more relevant ‘real world’ situations for the assessment of a candidate’s ability to manage the vehicle, route and traffic simultaneously. This has opened up test routes so that they face more exposure to busier roundabouts and junctions to improve observation, and varying traffic situations to improve their judgement. Use of sat nav and the demonstration of controls on the move also help candidates to manage distractions.

DVSA also continues to develop the theory test, notably through use of Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) in the Hazard Perception Test. Providing an opportunity to create high risk situations that the agency could not film safely, CGI has introduced a wider range of clips into the test featuring vulnerable road users or adverse weather conditions.

Crossings

Importantly, a new crossing, the parallel crossing, has been introduced to enable pedestrians and cyclists to cross where a signal-controlled crossing is not justified. Pedestrian countdown units can now be used to provide extra information on how long children have left to cross the road. To help local authorities use these measures, we are producing updated guidance. Chapter 6 of the Traffic Signs Manual will bring together and update existing out-of-date advice on designing traffic signals and crossings, as well as providing guidance on new measures. It will be published later this year.

Summary

In summary, this Government are taking an active role in tackling road safety around schools and will continue to support and engage fully in making all of our roads safer for everyone. All road users are required to comply with road traffic law in the interests of their own safety and that of other road users. For those who do not adopt a responsible attitude, or if their use of the roads creates an unsafe environment or causes nuisance, there are laws in place that can make them liable for prosecution.