Road safety education for children, young people and parents in Bradford

July 2013

Taking a strategic approach

Simon D’Vali, Principal Engineer in Shipley and member of Bradford Metropolitan District Council’s Safer Road’s Steering Group tells us how Bradford’s road safety programme for young children is being supported by partners following careful analysis of what was needed to ensure best practice in its delivery.

Bradford has given careful attention to child accident prevention for several years. Another case study on the Making the Link website explains how Bradford’s Safeguarding Children Board’s 2008-11 strategy was developed.

The existing road safety programme is well established. Current work is focusing on an action plan to increase take up.

The approach

Analysing the data

A Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) underpins Bradford’s approach. It clarified the following in relation to road safety:

  • Childhood accidents matter – unintentional injury is a leading cause of death amongst children and young people, and the largest numbers of serious injuries and deaths are caused by road accidents.
  • Pedestrians have the most accidents resulting in death or serious injury and the highest number of deaths or serious road injuries in road traffic accidents in is the 12-15 year age group. The area in Bradford with the highest number of road traffic collisions involving children is the City ward.
  • Social disadvantage is a significant factor – children who live in the most deprived 10% of wards in England are three times more likely to be hit by a car than children in the least deprived 10% of wards.

Bradford has achieved real successes with a 50% reduction in fatal and serious road casualties amongst children and young people (aged 0-15) during the period 2000-2010, when the number affected fell from a base of 69 to 35. But the number rose again in 2011 to 47 so the current target remains ambitious – a further 50% reduction by 2026.

Simon explained that even positive improvements sometimes mask a more complex picture. For example, the number of ‘slight’ injuries has been increasing, especially for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. There is often only a narrow margin between a slight injury and a serious one, so it is important to avoid getting complacent when the number of deaths and injuries are falling.

Reduced budgets

Funding in Bradford, as across the UK, has been cut back significantly – the annual funding for highway safety schemes was cut by 60% in 2010 and specific road safety grant funding also ended. The Police and Fire and Rescue Service have also had significant budget cuts that have severely impacted on the resources available for enforcement and education activities. These constraints have made it all the more important to focus activities on the interventions that are most likely to make a difference – in the locations that really count. This means carrying out further detailed work on what caused the collisions.

The past successes in Bradford have been built upon a ‘joined-up’ approach which recognises that different council departments ultimately share similar objectives, whether they are about reducing deaths on the roads or tackling obesity. Simon said, ‘engineers and Public Health specialists needed to talk to one another and leave their comfort zones behind’. The current initiatives are rooted in the same approach.

The road safety education programme then, does not exist in isolation. It is part of the road safety plan (2012-14) which includes strengthening links between constituency area committees and local communities; improving and maintaining safer roads; influencing driving and riding behaviour and reducing road speeds.

Building a sustainable delivery team from ‘bottom up’

The Road Safety Team is small and with reductions in staff is unable to deliver road safety sessions itself to all the children that need them. This has led to the current work on developing a new approach – training, and supporting professionals ‘on the ground’ in children’s centres and health centres so they are able to deliver the training themselves. Such training had previously been available on request, but the new strategy, which is supported by partners, is looking to formalise the arrangement. Simon describes the benefits that they hope to achieve by this approach:

"Not only do we get a sustainable resource, we are also better able to target parents this way, and reaching parents has always been difficult. The main thrust is to make sure that the parents are receiving the same level of understanding as their children are getting, because we sometimes forget the importance of parental responsibility when we  focus on training children..."

Maximising ‘top-down’ authority when needed

Because Bradford’s strategy has been created through a process that has genuinely included departments across the council and other partner agencies it means that it is possible to lever ‘top-down’ authority when it is needed. For example, if a school in an area where road accidents are high has not taken up offers of road safety training (which is not unusual in inner city areas) it has been possible to use contacts at a senior level in the Education Department to challenge the resistance.


Because the approach is in its early stages, it is not yet possible to measure outcomes for children and young people. However we can set out some of the activities which are currently being delivered as part of the Bradford District’s Safer Roads Action Plan 2012-2014.

The interventions

The Road Safety Team is delivering and supporting:

  • A primary school programme which includes pedestrian and cycling training, in-car safety sessions and parent/carer sessions. Information for parents and resources to support school activities are also provided.
  • A secondary school programme which covers key pedestrian and car passenger messages for KS3, and pre-driver presentation for KS4.
  • Car seat checks.
  • A school gate parking initiative.
  • Work in priority wards – a comprehensive multi-agency programme for schools/communities.
  • Health visitors delivering a road safety information pack ‘To Mum or Dad’.
  • Provision of ‘Teddy Takes a Tumble’ packs to parents of 5-6 year-olds – car seat belt wearing information, through the local primary school.
  • Involvement in other initiatives throughout the year including Child Safety Week, Brake Road Safety Week, ‘Be Bright Be Seen’ the Stay Safe programme, summer holiday programmes, multi-agency events and health fairs.

What we can learn

  • Working together across council departments is essential. Professionals need to leave their respective silos, talk to one-another, identify shared agendas and build effective local and regional strategies.
  • Plans need to be based upon robust national and local data. A Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) offers an ideal opportunity to identify child accident prevention as a major issue and to draw together the key information that will underpin action.
  • It is important to ‘dig’ into the data. For example, positive improvements such as a reduction in deaths and serious accidents on the roads might mask an increase in ‘slight’ accidents which should arouse genuine concern about the sustainability of any improvements.
  • Severe budget constraints can result in creative solutions. Building the capacity to deliver road safety training sessions for children and parents by ‘up-skilling’ professionals working ‘on the ground’ provides a sustainable way of reaching children and their parents – as long as these staff are properly supported.
  • Sometimes strategies need to be enforced, and support from senior managers has proved necessary when take-up of road safety training in schools has not been forthcoming, especially when it has been in areas where deaths and accidents have been high.

Further information

For more information about the work discussed in this case study, contact Simon D’Vali on 01274 437407 or

Related links

Updated October 2013