- A new road safety experiment has identified more than 17,000 cars driving past a primary school
- Speeding vehicles were driving an average of 14% over the legal limit, which would increase their stopping distance by 11.6m
- One in seven motorists have been caught speeding during school drop-off and pick-up times.
Churchill Motor Insurance is urging motorists to slow down when driving near schools, as part of a new road safety experiment1 conducted by the insurer revealed that a fifth (21%) of vehicles exceeded the speed limit when passing in front of a primary school during school hours. The results are extremely concerning given that drivers are driving on roads where many young children will cross and it is often difficult to see around parked cars.
During the two-week experiment, more than 83,000 cars passed the school used for the test, and more than 17,000 exceeded the speed limit. Cars found speeding averaged 14% (34.1 mph) over the legal limit, despite clear signage of the 30 mph speed limit and proximity to a school.
This increase in speed can have a significant impact on the distance a driver must stop in an emergency to avoid hitting a child. A car traveling at 30 MPH has a stopping distance of 46.7m in dry conditions. However, a 14% increase in speed to 34.1 mph increases stopping distance to 58.3 m, a 25% increase. This situation is further exacerbated in wet conditions, with the average stopping distance increasing by 31% to 78.2m if a car is traveling 4.1 mph over the speed limit.
Driving behavior influenced by time and day
Drivers were most likely to speed during the morning drop off (7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.), when almost a fifth (18%) of vehicles were found to be breaking the law. This fell to 7% during the afternoon pick-up (3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.), although this may be the result of a 31% increase in traffic volume that prevented motorists from accelerating.
Although these are times when there is likely to be a high concentration of child pedestrians along the road, this is apparently not enough of a deterrent to motorists. On average, one in seven vehicles (14%) were found to be speeding during these one-hour windows.
Table 1: Speeding habits around primary schools by day of the week
Source: Churchill Motor Insurance, 2022
These figures are all the more alarming since the analysis2 out of more than 600,000 road accidents between 2017 and 2020, 82,757 cases involved a pedestrian. Children of primary school age, aged 4 to 11, accounted for one in eight (12%) of these accidents, despite representing only 10% of the population.
Overall, more than 10,000 primary school children were hit by vehicles between 2017 and 2020, meaning seven children were hit by a car every day. The analysis shows that young children are 22% more likely to be involved in a road accident than the rest of the population.
Nicholas Mantel, head of Churchill Motor Insurance, said: “Driving beyond the speed limit, however small, can have a serious impact on stopping distances. Young children do not always have the best awareness of road safety and may run between parked cars, so if a car was traveling over the speed limit when this happened, it may not be able to stop in time, resulting in a tragic accident.
“While drivers should be more responsible for their speed around schools, it is essential that children are educated about road safety to ensure that they know how to minimize the risk of accidents. We encourage all adults to teach children key safety tips around roads to avoid unpleasant incidents.”
Notes to Editors
1 Hands-on experience by Intelligent Data Collection on Bray Road (B3028), near Oldfield Primary School in Maidenhead. Vehicle volumes and speeds were recorded in 15-minute increments between Monday 10and and Sunday 23rd January 2022
2 Churchill analysis of STATS19 data for the period covering the 1st from January 31, 2017st December 2020. Analysis was conducted on crash and casualty profiles, with a particular focus on the circumstances surrounding incidents involving injured pedestrians aged 4-11.
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