Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Institute for Public Policy Research (RTS 51)


  The Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) in collaboration with the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College is currently engaged in a project looking at the links between child pedestrian accidents and social inequality. The project aims to set the Government's road safety strategy in the wider context of government objectives to improve public health and reduce health inequalities. A brief description of the project parts can be found at the end of this document.

  This submission is being made at the point where only preliminary results are available. Full results, conclusions and recommendations will be published in the spring of 2002.

  This submission addresses themes the Committee wish to consider specifically from the viewpoint of reducing child pedestrian accidents and inequality and improving the liveability of streets.


  Britain's child pedestrian fatality rate is almost twice that of Germany. More than 3,000 children were killed or seriously injured (ksi) as pedestrians in 2000. The DTLR's own estimate is that speed is a factor in up to one third of all accidents, which means that speed was a police recorded factor in over 1,000 of the child pedestrians ksi in 2000.

  Road accidents are the biggest single cause of accidental death amongst children and young people and accidents are the leading cause of death in this age group. Each year around a fifth of all deaths of those aged five to 19 are due to road accidents, this amounts to around two thirds of accidental deaths for this age group.

  Mapping of all road accidents recorded by the police in an area such as London, shown on page 2, vividly illustrates how many accidents occur and the quality of the mapping data, although there is evidence of a high level of underreporting of accidents to the police.

  If inappropriate speed is responsible for one third of all accidents then this still leaves a lot of dots, each representing an accident, on this map. The quality of life in urban areas, particularly for pedestrians, is clearly going to be reduced when the road is such a dangerous place to be. Children from more deprived backgrounds are going to experience the biggest impact on their quality of life as they are the most likely to be trying to cross, play and live near these roads and least likely to be in cars.



  Most local authority transport plans indicate that authorities look at recorded accident data and use it to assist their transport planning process. They tend to target measures to reduce accidents in areas where the recorded accident rate appears to be relatively high, that is they treat accident "hot-spots". A lot of authorities also appear to prioritise locations where child pedestrian accidents are thought to be a particular concern. The measures might be introduced in these cases as a response to local residents concerns or as part of schemes to make routes to school safer.

  The fact that the overall number of fatalities in any particular ward will thankfully tend to be very small means that many authorities now feel that many of the easy gains in accident reduction, by treating "hot-spots", have been had. That is, analysis of local data alone does not easily show where measures to reduce accidents might most effectively be located and the most articulate local demand for measures might not result in measures being placed where they might have most effect.

  The research being carried out by ippr appears to show that the child pedestrian accident rates in particular are higher in more deprived areas (see graph on next page). The graph shows that children in the 10 per cent most deprived wards in England using the child poverty index have an accident rate around four times that of the 10 per cent most affluent. Children are also a higher proportion of the population in more deprived wards, compounding the problem. The residents of such areas are more likely to be socially excluded and the least likely to be able to make demands for measures to improve the liveability of their area, such as accident reduction measures. While this idea of area-based inequality in child pedestrian accidents has been investigated in the past at a local level (and on a social class base with mortality statistics), it has not been analysed at a national scale before. The results of this work might assist local transport planners in their quest to place measures to reduce accidents in the most effective places. That is, by targeting measures at more deprived areas they might gain the largest reductions in child pedestrian accidents and better rates of return on investment on such measures, over the long term.


  Research by the Transport Research Laboratory indicates that 20 mph zones are very effective at reducing road accidents (by 60 per cent on average) and child pedestrian and cyclist accidents in particular (by 70 per cent on average). Kingston upon Hull, for example, has achieved impressive results by introducing 85 such zones. The work being done by ippr will map 20 mph zones and show whether the effective measures are being placed where they are most lively to have the greatest effect.

  Traffic calmed 20 mph zones are very effective at reducing child pedestrian accidents and the rates of such accidents are highest in the most deprived areas. This implies that a policy of traffic calming such areas would be beneficial in terms of casualty reduction and the economic savings which society benefits from by preventing accidents. As further results become available the ippr work should be able to shed light on which factors influence this socio-economic gradient and what other measures might be appropriate to aid the reduction of pedestrian casualties and inequality.

  Speeding vehicles decrease the liveability of areas and if the government's intended urban renaissance is to occur it seems clear that measures to reduce speed need to be considered as part of area wide programmes to improve the quality of life of residents of such areas. However, even though speed reduction reduces casualties it is not presently perceived as popular with the public. Policies to reduce speed need to be implemented in ways which enhance the quality of life people in such a way that the perceived disbenefit of reduced speed is outweighed by the improved living environment for all. Government has a responsibility to communicate its desire to improve Britain's quality of life by making pedestrian activity safer and more enjoyable. This question of attitudes to the car and lifestyle is being looked at in a major ippr project in 2002.


1.  Spatial analysis of child pedestrian accidents

  Since the beginning of 1999 the STATS19 form completed by the Police for all road accidents has included the postcode of accident victims. The information from these forms is compiled on a database held at the DTLR. New area indices of deprivation at ward level have also been compiled on another DTLR held database, these include an overall index and child poverty index. For the first time ippr and Imperial are mapping and correlating child pedestrian accident victims by accident location and residence with the local area indices for the whole country, using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This provides a national picture of how accident risk varies with levels of deprivation. Office of National Statistics mortality data is also being used to examine trends in accident inequality over time.

2.  Spatial analysis of 20 mph zones in England and Wales

  Data on the location of 20 mph zones does not exist in a format which would allow mapping to be performed. ippr are doing a survey of highway authorities in England and Wales to determine the location of existing and planned 20 mph zones. The zones will then be mapped with the accident and poverty data to see if there is any correlation or correspondence to the results of the spatial analysis described above.

3.  Review of local road safety strategies in England

  As part of their statutory five-year local transport plans, all local highway authorities must set targets to reduce road casualties and develop strategies to meet them. This review is looking at the targets the authorities are choosing, why they are choosing them and in partnership with whom. The review is also looking at what measures are being used and how they are targeted. A literature review of the most cost-effective measures to reduce child pedestrian accidents will also be undertaken.

  Results, conclusion and recommendations will be published in spring 2002, look out for details on this and other ippr projects see the website,

January 2002

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