Parents are being reminded of the importance of ensuring their children know the Green Cross Code ahead of their return to school in September.
For many children, the start of term will be the first time they have been to school since lockdown began in March – meaning many will be out of the habit of walking to school.
Laura Moulton, a personal injury lawyer at Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors in Shropshire, said children were particularly vulnerable to road accidents – which is the focus of this year’s Injury Prevention Week, running from August 17 to 21.
She said: “As Lanyon Bowdler is an Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) accredited firm, I was pleased to hear that APIL had decided to expand their Injury Prevention awareness campaign to a full week.
“With schools going back in the coming weeks across the country due to the easing of lockdown, I have been thinking carefully about road safety, in particular concerning children.
“As a busy mum of three young children, road safety is always at the forefront of my and my husband’s minds whenever we are walking with our children.
“My eldest has just turned 11, meaning come September she will be one of the cohort of new starters at her secondary school.
“The sheer scariness of starting a new school aside, she was concerned about the walk to and from school, as were we.
“We gave this some serious thought as the route will require her to cross a busy major road and navigate her way around a large roundabout on the major road.
“Test walks have been carried out and we now have a plan in place when the time comes to return to school.
“With the easing of lockdown, I would urge parents to spend time during the remainder of the holidays to ensure their precious little ones are up to speed on road safety by learning or being reminded of the Green Cross Code.
“I certainly will be – prevention is better than cure as they say!”
Laura has worked in the personal injury department at Lanyon Bowdler for the past 10 years, and said she had worked on many cases where child pedestrians had been injured by drivers not paying attention or driving too fast.
She added: “Children are especially at risk during school pick up and leaving times, given their uniforms are generally of dark colour making them less visible when walking to or from school.
“Accidents involving pedestrians can cause injuries ranging from something minor to something more serious, leaving them with permanent physical and/or cognitive impairments, and on occasion can be fatal.
“The Department for Transport conducted a review on child casualties in 2015 and concluded that children under 16 are the most vulnerable road users.
“The charity Brake have also carried out research and in 2018 found that of 456 pedestrian deaths that year in the UK, 48 were children.
“When faced with a personal injury claim, a court will usually take the view that a vehicle is a lethal weapon, putting a high burden upon any driver when considering any reason they may put forward such as ‘they came from nowhere’.
“A Judge is often likely to take this as evidence that the driver was not sufficiently paying attention.
“Even if a driver is found to be at fault, insurers often allege contributory negligence against the pedestrian.
“Courts have to take into account the degree of blameworthiness and the contribution the negligence makes to the accident and injuries.
“A court will assess the facts of each case to determine apportionment of liability between the parties.
“This is not easy to do between a child and a driver. This is where the burden is greater upon a driver of a ‘lethal weapon’.
“Children may not have the same level of self-control as an adult in dangerous situations, and case law indicates the level of contributory negligence increases as they get older.
“Since no two cases are the same, this can be where the difficulty arises.
“Even though a Judge may find the defendant negligent for not keeping a proper lookout, they will also take into account the child’s age and actions, and apportion some blame to them as the Judge may be of the opinion that the child should have been aware of the dangers of crossing the road.”