A child chases a ball onto the road without noticing the oncoming car. A teenager is too busy texting while walking down the pavement to pay attention to the traffic. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
Every year about 7,000 pedestrians under the age of 16 are injured on our roads – and 20 lose their lives. Cyclists are also vulnerable: 13 child cyclists died in 2012 and 2,185 were injured. British roads might be safer than they were thirty years ago, but the number of injuries and fatalities is still too high. No one wants a child to be hurt – and even one death is one too many.
Child safety campaignParents and schools can - and should - teach children about road safety. The government also has a role to play and its THINK! initiative is intended to raise awareness of safety issues and reduce the number of accidents on our roads. Now the RAC has joined forces with THINK! and Aardman animations, the creators of Wallace & Gromit, to announce a new road safety campaign for children. The RAC wants to capture children’s imaginations so is contacting every primary, junior and secondary school in the country to challenge pupils to create a short animated film to highlight key road safety messages. For example, finding a safe place to cross, wearing bright clothing and resisting the distractions of a mobile phone or iPod. The RAC has also introduced Horace, a road safety mascot designed by Aardman in the company’s trademark style. If you are a fan of Wallace and Gromit, you will probably warm to Horace!
Competition prizesThe competition is open to school children aged four to 16 and the first prize in each of the three age categories is £1,000 for the school. But that’s not all. The three runners-up win an Aardman model-making workshop for their schools, and the first 10,000 pupils to enter the competition receive an RAC Road Safety Kit. There’s loads of information on the website www.rac.co.uk/childroadsafety, including some hints and tips about animation. It’s all been made possible by the creation of the RAC Charitable Trust, which will receive a cash injection from the motoring organisation of £250,000 to help fund the competition. It also plans further campaigns and road safety initiatives in the future.
The competition – and Horace – are supposed to be fun for the children. But the RAC’s intent is deadly serious. Chris Woodhouse, chief executive of the RAC, says: “As the motorist’s champion, the RAC is committed to making our roads safer places for everyone and we believe the key to this will be engaging road users from a young age and championing safety education in schools. Road casualties in the UK might be at a record low but greater effort is needed to bring them lower still. Every life lost is one too many and another family devastated.” The motoring organisation also has an eye on future road safety. After all, a child pedestrian today is an adult motorist tomorrow.
You can enter the competition via the RAC’s road safety website (the closing date is Friday July 4, 2014). You can find out more and register your interest at rac.co.uk/childroadsafety and visit Horace’s own Facebook page facebook.com/Horace.Champion or follow him on Twitter @HoraceChampion for the latest news and to see the latest animation entries.