'Cut speed to 20mph' Brake urges Grimsby drivers
Grimsby motorists are being urged to reduce their speed to 20mph in built-up areas, in a bid to cut the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads.
The message comes from road safety charity Brake, as it reveals every week 10 adults and five children (age 0-17) are run down and killed or seriously hurt when on foot or bike in Yorkshire and Humberside.
Each year the charity dedicates one week to raising awareness of road dangers. The theme for this year’s Road Safety Week, which gets under way today, is ‘Slower speeds = happy people’.
Brake is calling on drivers to slow down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops. This, the charity explains, will save lives, as it gives motorists a good chance of stopping in time in an emergency.
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Brake will also be raising awareness of the importance of making it safer for people to walk and cycle in their community.
Last year in Yorkshire and Humberside 44 people were killed on foot and 501 were seriously injured. Of these victims, 41 per cent (214) were children: six child pedestrians were killed and 208 suffered serious injuries.
One of those victims was six-year-old Owen Wightman of Kettlethorpe, Wakefield, who was hit and killed by a motorist driving at 57mph in a 30mph zone.
The car travelled 23 metres down the road with Owen on the bonnet before he was thrown off. He died at the roadside.
Owen’s mum Joanne Wightman said: “No punishment could compare to what we have gone through every day since Owen was taken from us. He had his whole life ahead of him and his death was so violent and needless.
“Our message to drivers is to imagine what you could put a family through by your actions. Keep to 20mph in built-up areas, and watch out for kids when you’re driving. Don’t end another innocent child’s life.”
Last year seven cyclists were killed and 249 suffered serious injuries. Of these victims, 27 per cent (62) were children: one child cyclist was killed and 61 suffered serious injuries.
In 2011 pedestrian deaths and serious injuries went up significantly across the UK, and for the first time in 17 years. Pedestrian deaths increased by 12 per cent, while serious injuries climbed five per cent.
Cyclist deaths decreased by two per cent in 2011, but serious injuries increased by 16 per cent.
PC Keith Ward, casualty reduction officer in Hull, said: “We already have our fair share of 20mph zones in Hull and they have proven to be successful.
“If a pedestrian is hit in a 20mph zone there’s an eight out of 10 chance of survival. If they’re hit at 40mph there’s only a one in 10 chance. The difference is quite big.
“I would say to drivers: keep your speed down. It’s extremely important not just to not have an excessive speed, but to drive at the appropriate speed.
“You must slow down in a built up area because you don’t know what might happen. A child might run out from between the cars or a pedestrian might not see the car because they’re using their phone.
“If you can see ahead there’s a school or shops, think ‘I may have to stop’, so slow down.”
PC Ward added: “People don’t see the side where families are destroyed, even years down the line. And a road death is so sudden – it can take an old person or a young person. It’s happening every day.
“Every collision is preventable, if only we can change people’s attitude – whether it’s slowing down or not taking that phone call.”
Martin Howard, campaign spokesperson at Brake, said: “Everyone in Yorkshire and Humberside should be able to walk and cycle in their community without fear or threat: it’s a basic right, and GO 20 is about defending that.
“The 2012 Games helped us all realise the importance of being able to live active lifestyles. Critical to this is making our streets and communities safe places we can use and enjoy.
“Anyone who drives can help bring this about: pledge to GO 20 in communities, even where the limit’s still 30 - you’ll be helping to protect people around you, and you’ll hardly notice the difference to your journey.
“We’re also calling on government and more local authorities to recognise the need for 20mph, and the huge demand for safe walking and cycling, and GO 20.”
To find out more about Road Safety Week, visit www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk.
To read about the benefits of 20mph zones, click here.