Children in poorest areas 'more likely to be injured in road accident'

22 May 2019, 07:20

Accident sign

Children in the poorest areas of Scotland are about three times more likely to be injured in a road accident than those in the richest parts, according to research by a charity.

Walking and cycling charity Sustrans Scotland said its analysis highlights a "double injustice" hitting the country's poorest communities.

It has called for a range of measures to address the problem, including better pavements and pedestrian crossings, safer cycle routes and lower speed limits.

The findings are being presented at the Scottish Transport Applications Research conference taking place on Wednesday.

The results show that the risk for a person aged 16 and under, travelling on foot or on a bike, of being involved in a traffic accident increases as areas become more deprived.

Those in the 20% most deprived areas were found to be more than three times as likely to be involved in an incident than children in the 20% least deprived areas.

Maps showing clusters of accidents have been published by the charity.

Sustrans Scotland national director John Lauder said: "This analysis shines a light on a 'double injustice' being done to Scotland's poorest communities.

"Firstly - communities are locked out of opportunities through transport poverty.

"Secondly, children in those communities are at three times higher risk of death or injury while out walking or cycling - simply due to their postcode."

He added: "We are calling on local authorities and government to implement more widespread high-quality infrastructure and slower-speed streets to make children and young people safer, especially in Scotland's most disadvantaged areas."

Peter Kelly, director of The Poverty Alliance, added: "These figures from Sustrans are very concerning. We know that living on a low income can damage young lives in a variety of ways, impacting on health, education and future employment prospects.

"But there is a pressing need to better understand the precise reasons why children living in some parts of Scotland are more likely to be the victims of road traffic accidents.

"Whatever the reasons, we need to ensure that resources are made available to improve safety standards in communities across Scotland."

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: "The Scottish Government is committed to reducing risk on Scotland's roads and we recognise that tackling vehicle speeds is a crucial factor towards improving road safety.

"There is evidence that while pedestrian casualties among adults and children were at the lowest level in 2017, there remains higher road casualty rates in our most deprived areas.

"Local authorities have a number of tools which they can use to encourage safe walking and cycling in communities, such as 20 mph and vehicle exclusion zones around schools.

"We continue to fund local authorities directly through the cycling, walking and safer streets grant which this year is £8.9 million."