Public Release: 

Children in deprived areas three times more likely to be hit by a car

Imperial College London

Children in the ten per cent most deprived wards in England are more than three times as likely to be pedestrian casualties as those in the ten per cent least deprived wards, according to new research published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) and Imperial College Centre for Transport Studies today (Monday).

The report, Streets ahead - safe and liveable streets for children, examines the relationship between deprivation and child pedestrian casualties in Britain and the use of 20mph zones to reduce injuries and inequality. This is the first time that all the pedestrian injuries in England reported by the police in 1999 and 2000 have been mapped to the official ward index of multiple deprivation.

The research found that the numbers of child pedestrian accidents in deprived areas is far more than would be expected, even taking into account the increased risk in urban areas. The report recommends:

  • Traffic calming combined with a maximum 20mph speed limit should become the norm in residential and other built up areas with priority given to traffic calmed 20mph zones in deprived areas with high pedestrian casualty rates.

  • All local transport plans should include pedestrian casualty reduction targets and a speed management strategy. In spite of the importance of traffic speed to the number and severity of road casualties, only one in three local transport plans presently include a clear speed management policy.

  • Home zones in Britain should rapidly move beyond demonstration projects to widespread implementation.

  • The government should develop a national strategy for pedestrians to promote an increase in walking at the same time as a reduction in pedestrian casualties.

Tony Grayling, Associate Director of the ippr and a co-author of the report, said:

"Britain's good road safety record overall is marred by a poor record on child pedestrian safety. In Britain in 2001, the police reported almost 16,000 child pedestrian casualties, including more than 3,000 serious injuries and more than 100 deaths. Making our streets safer for children would probably do more to protect children from injury and death than any other child protection policy.

"Our research clearly shows that social inequality underpins Britain's relatively poor record on child pedestrian safety. Children and adults in deprived areas are less likely to get about by car and are more likely to make journeys on foot. Kids from deprived backgrounds are less likely to have gardens to play in and are more likely to play on the street unsupervised. Therefore we want to see the government prioritise tackling making streets safer on deprived parts of the country.

"The visibility and freedom of children is surely one of the marks of a civilised society. If the freedom of children is constrained in the motor age, then public policy should seek to rebalance the rights and responsibilities of road users towards children's rights and motorists' responsibilities. This means tackling the issue of speed head on, both speed limits and their enforcement, and that will require leadership from the top.

"This is not a matter of being pro- or anti-car. It's about getting a balance of rights and responsibilities between different road users. So far the government has been weak in the face of the media and motoring lobby on the questions of traffic speed, pedestrian safety and street liveability. Making streets safe and liveable for children is not just the right thing to do. It is also a potentially popular political agenda."

Dr Daniel Graham, Senior Research Associate in the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College said:

"The basic data show that the most deprived wards have much higher rates of child pedestrian casualties than the least deprived. You would normally expect to find higher casualty rates in dense urban areas with lots of traffic - and it is often these types of areas that tend to be deprived. Are the data simply reflecting these differences in area types? We built a statistical model to unscramble the various effects arising from local influences including traffic flows, urban density, land use, and the volume of road space. We didn't know if the deprivation effect would stand up having controlled for these effects - but it does and it is very strong."


Notes to Editors:

Streets ahead - Safe and liveable streets for children is written by Tony Grayling, Karl Hallam, Daniel Graham, Richard Anderson and Stephen Glaister. Tony Grayling is an associate director and head of the sustainability team at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Karl Hallam is a transport researcher and consultant in the sustainability team at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Dr Daniel Graham is a senior research associate in the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College, London. He attained his PhD at the London School of Economics. Richard Anderson is a senior research associate at the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial College, London, where he undertakes research in the fields of transport economics and planning. Stephen Glaister is professor of transport and infrastructure at Imperial College, London. He is an adviser to the Commission for Integrated Transport and a board member of Transport for London.

The research is available by email or post from the ippr media office (journalists only) and on the ippr website A series of graphs and charts are available in pdf and word format on request from the media office.

The report reveals:

  • Britain has the best road safety record overall in Europe if not the western world but one of the worst records on child pedestrian safety;

  • Nine of the other 14 member states had a lower rate of child pedestrian deaths in 1999 (latest figures). Netherlands, Germany, France all have a better record;

  • In Britain in 2001, 15,811 child pedestrian injuries were reported by the police, including 3,306 serious injuries and 107 deaths;

  • In England and Wales in 2000, child (0-15 years old) pedestrian deaths were 2 per cent of all child deaths, 27 per cent of all child accident deaths and 61 per cent of all child road deaths;

  • Although the number of child pedestrian casualties has been falling, this is mirrored by a reduction in walking e.g. to school as more children are ferried by car so it is not clear that roads have become safer;

  • 95 per cent of pedestrian injuries happen in built up areas, most child pedestrian injuries happen close to home.


All 71,076 reported pedestrian casualties in England in 1999 and 2000 have been mapped. Each pedestrian casualty has been allocated to one of England's 8,414 wards using Geographical Information Systems software. As a measure of area deprivation, the government's deprivation index has been used, which gives a deprivation score to each ward.

The ippr's research has been endorsed by motoring and campaigning groups:

David Williams MBE, FIRSO, Chief Executive of the Guild of Experienced Motorists said:

"The Guild of Experienced Motorists (GEM) was delighted to be associated with this important research and to make a contribution towards the reduction of child pedestrian casualties in Britain. The clear link between deprivation and road traffic casualties which the research has confirmed, provides all those involved in the field of road safety with a challenging task to reduce injuries and inequality and thus protect the most vulnerable members of our society."

Vicky Cann, Assistant Director (Policy & Campaigns), Transport 2000, said:

"One child pedestrian death on Britain's roads is one too many. But for far too long, we have allowed over 100 children a year to die in this way, and we have ignored the evidence which shows that child pedestrians from poorer communities are several times more likely to die than their peers from more well-off communities. This report is to be welcomed for restating the link between poverty and child deaths on the road, and the ippr analysis amply demonstrates the need for far more government action to deliver safer streets, by introducing lower speed limits, traffic calming measures and tough targets. However, the ippr report also, crucially, talks about the responsibilities of all of us in delivering safer streets. Creating safer, liveable streets will require all of us to think about the transport choices that we make and the impacts that they have on others...and tragically every year there are over 100 reasons why this issue should be at the top of all of our agendas."

Tom Franklin, Director of Living Streets, said:

"Streets Ahead shows conclusively that there is nothing inevitable about Britain's high rate of child pedestrian casualties. It shows how, by re-balancing the rights and responsibilities between drivers and pedestrians, many lives could be saved - especially if priority is given to deprived areas. The report's recommendations are modest but effective. If they were implemented by Government and local authorities, they would cost a fraction of the total transport budget, and would quickly pay for themselves in casualty savings."


Media enquiries: Philip Taylor, Senior Media Officer, ippr 44-207-470-6120 / 44-775-371-9289 /
Beatrice Stern, Media Officer, ippr 207-470-6125 / 797-185-1145 /

Abigail Smith, Press Officer, Imperial College London 207-594-6701 / 780-388-6248 /

Other enquiries:
Tony Grayling, Associate Director 207-470-6116 / t.grayling@ippr/

All ippr news releases can be found at

Imperial College London website is at

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.