THE full scale of accidents involving children on roads around Scotland’s schools is revealed in a new analysis by Scotland on Sunday today.
The collisions in school neighbourhoods happened within a radius of a third of a mile around schools, where pupils travel to classes and many of them live.
The highest number of child casualties in the five years to 2011 covered by the figures were in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
However, there was a wide range within both cities, with only one incident in some areas over the period.
The area around Annette Street Primary School in the Govanhill district of Glasgow had Scotland’s highest child casualty rate, with a total of 29 deaths or injuries between 2006 and 2011.
The second highest was the area around St Mary’s RC Primary in East London Street, off Leith Walk in Edinburgh, with 28.
Fintry Primary in Dundee had the most child casualties outside the two largest cities, with 20, followed by the area around Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen, and Kilbowie Primary in Clydebank, with 19 each.
Campaigners called for more safe walking routes to school, street closures and blanket 20mph limits to cut the rates.
Keith Irving, head of Living Streets Scotland, which campaigns for pedestrians, said: “It is important streets around schools are both safe and perceived to be safe to encourage more children and their parents to walk to school and be active.
“Measures such as street closures, identifying suitable walking routes and reducing traffic speeds make the walk to school safer and a more attractive option.
“The consequential reduction of traffic on our roads at peak times means a safer walking environment for everyone.”
Siobhan MacMahon, campaigns officer for road safety group Brake, said: “Reducing vehicle speeds can make a massive difference to the safety of kids on foot and riding bikes.
“Drivers should slow down to 20mph around schools, to protect these vulnerable road users.
“Brake also calls on government and local authorities to do more to reduce speeds in communities to tackle pedestrian and cyclist casualties and create better places to live.”
Motoring groups said the figures showed action was required far wider than just outside school gates.
Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy and research director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Inner city schools will always present a higher risk than those in the suburbs.
“More children tend to walk to them, parked cars can present a hazard and narrow busy streets mean that incidents are more likely.
“It is vital that road safety policies adopt a wider, area-based approach and don’t just look at keep-clear markings and lollipop people right outside the school.
“Most child injuries occur after school when children are less supervised.”
Glasgow City Council said its child casualty rates were falling. A spokesman said: “Serious injuries suffered by children in Glasgow are down 35 per cent this year, based on the 2004-8 average national targets, and there were no child fatalities in the city last year.
“Annually, we invest more than any other Scottish local authority in road safety education – £600,000 last year.”
Edinburgh City Council said the figures for the area around St Mary’s RC Primary reflected local traffic levels.
Transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “The surrounding area is extremely busy with vehicles, as they take in the streets like Leith Walk and Broughton Street.
“Road safety around our schools is something we take extremely seriously, as shown by the number of road safety awareness initiatives we run.
“There is nothing in this data which indicates the collisions relate specifically to the schools themselves, as many of these collisions could have happened during school holidays.”
Superintendent Iain Murray, head of road policing for Police Scotland, said: “The new divisional road policing units routinely target ‘safe routes to schools’ to encourage drivers to take care around schools and in areas where the young and vulnerable may be on the road.
“Action plans exist in all 14 divisions to deal with dangerous and inconsiderate parking on pavements, footpaths and in the controlled areas of pedestrian crossings, the dangerous carriage of children in cars and speeding.”
The figures, compiled from UK government statistics by Axa Car Insurance and consultants Road Safety Analysis, are for the full five-year period and not limited to school hours or term time.
Figures for all 2,500 Scottish schools are available via a postcode search at axainsurancezone.com/localroadsafetyindex/ (Note that the link may not work on some browsers)