UK

Osborne Urged To Put More Money Into Child Road Safety Campaigns

14/03/2013 16:26 GMT | Updated 18/03/2013 18:59 GMT

Road safety charities and businesses have called on George Osborne to spend more on road safety campaigns for children after the departmental budget was slashed from £3.78 million in 2010 to £78,000 in 2012.

Ahead of next week's Budget, Brake and Autoglass have called on the government to rethink its strategy. The budget cuts from last year have already resulted in all television campaigns for children's safety campaigns being binned, with no current plans to reinstall them for 2013/2014.

The figures are truly shocking: in the 2009/2010 Budget, £3.78m was allocated to the Department for Transport to spend on childrens' road safety campaigns. By the 2010/2011 Budget, that figure had more than halved to £1.28m. In 2012/2013's Budget, just £78,000 was allocated.

The government says the major areas of spend for the overall THINK! campaign, which takes in marketing for all road safety campaigns, are motorcycling safety where accident rates are highest, and drink driving where people continue to flout the law.

The number of children killed or seriously injured in road accident figures fell by 1% between September 2011 and September 2012 but ministers hinted at the time of the figures release that the stats were skewed by a greater number of people being off the road due to the poor weather experienced in 2012.

And overall pedestrian deaths in 2011 increased by 12%, to 453 fatalities – with by far the biggest increase among children and pensioners.

The overall budget for THINK! has also been drastically cut from £18m in 2010/2011 to £3.57m today - less than was originally spent on the childrens' safety campaigns alone.

Franki Hackett, campaigns officer at Brake, told the Huffington Post UK: "It is deeply disappointing road safety awareness, particularly for children, has been scaled back. Too often investing in road safety is seen as a cost, without recognition of the costs of not investing.

"Road crashes have enormous, unacceptable human costs, but they also have large financial costs for government, the NHS, and our economy as a whole. That's why we urge the government to invest in road safety through educational campaigns and measures like more 20mph limits which give drivers time to stop in an emergency, to make streets safer for children on foot and bike and for adults across the UK."

And Samantha Day, PR manager at Autoglass, told the Huffington Post UK : "We all understand how tight budgets are right now, but children are the most vulnerable group of road users, and cutting investment in road safety resources will lead to tragedy.

"While more can be done by businesses to support charities, with joint initiatives such as the Autoglass and Brake free wipers activity, it is essential the government does not lose focus on just how essential funding is for road safety."

Brake and Autoglass have recently launched a free Bosch wipers initiative, which urges drivers to consider the road safety implications of poor visibility and raises awareness of the essential role windscreen wipers play in allowing drivers to maintain good visibility.

HuffPost UK approached road safety minister Stephen Hammond for his response on the subject - we were sent a statement which virtually echoed his earlier House of Commons statement from 27 February.

"Road deaths are at a record low but we know that one death is one too many which is why we are focusing our THINK! campaigns where they will have the greatest impact," he said.

"We are working closely with local authorities and other partners to ensure our road safety messages are reaching children and teenagers in schools as well as providing educational resources to allow these important messages to be incorporated into the curriculum."

The government is also investing in roads infrastructure, taking steps to make it easier for the police to enforce against drivers who break the law, as well as streamlining the process for councils to implement 20mph zones and limits on the roads.

The scrapping of television advertisements for childrens' road safety campaigns had also meant Brits have lost some of their most loved safety characters, including the Hedgehogs, The Green Cross Code Man and Tufty.

Check out some of our favourites below.