Road Safety Week gets underway: slower speeds = happy people

This week is Road Safety Week: from the 19th to the 25th of November, road safety charity Brake will this year be raising awareness as to the damage speeding can cause.

Every year, Road Safety Week is underpinned by a theme. This year’s theme, as previewed by RAC last week, is “slower speeds = happy people.”

Previously, the campaign has been focused around strap lines such as “too young to die”, “kids say slow down” and “not a drop, not a drag”. While the words might be different, the message is the same: a lax attitude to driving and disregard for the rules can cause serious damage.

Speed kills. Full stop. That’s why Brake is encouraging drivers to cut their velocity to 20mph around homes, schools and shops – all built up areas where pedestrians are vulnerable.

This year’s promotion is particularly important given the Department for Transport accident statistics released earlier in the year.

Road deaths rose last year for the first time since 2003 – up to 1,901 people – while the toll killed or seriously injured on UK carriageways was up for the first time since 1994 at 25,023.

It appears that our relatively safe modern vehicles are perhaps lulling motorists into a false sense of security. We need to remember that speed is a danger and driving a privilege; that the time it takes for us to get from A to B is less important than another potential mark in the road deaths column. People are more than statistics.

Awareness is the key here – it’s the only way to apply the metaphorical brakes. The annual Road Safety Week campaign is admirable, but maybe it needs something more, something stronger to make the message hit home.

It’s reported that speed awareness courses have a positive impact on drivers as a result of the very real material used to raise awareness. But the funds for a programme like that aren’t readily available.

Instead, Brake is creating awareness in a different way – it’s focusing on the next generation of drivers, instilling in them the danger of speed and the need to be mature in controlling it.

Getting children actively involved in projects such as this, creating a new attitude for the next generation of drivers in the UK, can only help reduce our road death and injury figures markedly in the future.

We can stem the problem now while we’re mitigating it for the future: that’s what Road Safety Week will help drive home over the coming days.