South Devon motorists are being urged to reduce their speed to 20mph in built-up areas, in a bid to cut the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads.
The message comes from road safety charity Brake, as it reveals every week nine adults and three children (age 0 to 17) are run down and killed or seriously hurt when on foot or bike in the South West.
Each year the charity dedicates one week to raising awareness of road dangers. The theme for this year’s Road Safety Week, which gets under way today, is ‘Slower speeds = happy people’.
Brake is calling on drivers to slow down to 20mph around homes, schools and shops. This, the charity explains, will save lives, as it gives motorists a good chance of stopping in time in an emergency.
Brake will also be raising awareness of the importance of making it safer for people to walk and cycle in their community.
In the South West last year 26 people were killed on foot and 349 were seriously injured. Of these victims, 28 per cent (105) were children: three child pedestrians were killed and 102 suffered serious injuries.
Meanwhile 10 cyclists were killed and 233 suffered serious injuries. Of these victims, 12 per cent (28) were children: two child cyclists were killed and 26 suffered serious injuries.
In 2011 pedestrian deaths and serious injuries rose significantly across the UK, and for the first time in 17 years. Pedestrian deaths increased by 12 per cent, while serious injuries climbed by five per cent.
Cyclist deaths decreased by two per cent in 2011, but serious injuries increased by 16 per cent.
Franki Hackett, campaign coordinator at Brake, said: “Everyone in the South West should be able to walk and cycle in their community without fear or threat: it’s a basic right, and GO 20 is about defending that.
“The 2012 Games helped us all realise the importance of being able to live active lifestyles. Critical to this is making our streets and communities safe places we can use and enjoy.
“Anyone who drives can help bring this about: pledge to GO 20 in communities, even where the limit’s still 30 - you’ll be doing something good for people around you, and you’ll hardly notice the difference to your journey.
“We’re also calling on national government and more local authorities in the South West to recognise the need for 20mph, and the huge demand for safe walking and cycling, and GO 20.”
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Speed is quite often a contributing factor in road deaths and casualties.
“What drivers should concentrate on is driving to the road conditions as opposed to the actual road speed limit. So motorists should reduce their speed in built-up areas, even if the limit is 30mph.
“We would support any campaign that is going to help reduce road deaths”.
To find out more about Road Safety Week, visit www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk.
To read about the benefits of 20mph zones, click here.