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Brake hotline causes concern
Steve Whitehouse, LARSOA's outgoing chair and the Association's new Brake liaison contact, has expressed 'concerns' about a freephone telephone hotline launched by the road safety charity for members of the public to report dangerous roads in their community.
Brake says that the Zak the Zebra hotline enables parents and residents who fear for their children's safety on roads to take action to tackle child deaths and injuries in their community. The hotline can be used to name and shame dangerous roads near schools and residential areas, where children on foot or bikes are at risk.
"We get hundreds of calls from people complaining about roads in their area," said Brake spokesman Andrew Hill. "They don't understand why the government and local councils don't do something about them. This hotline is designed to help individuals and empower them to take action."
Callers to the hotline are offered the chance to take part in a free half-day training session to improve their road safety awareness, which they can then pass this on to others in their area. Brake hopes to attract teachers, parents and voluntary community leaders to the course.
"LARSOA has concerns about this initiative," Steve Whitehouse says. "We accept its validity and Brake's motives, but we also have a duty not to undermine long term strategic casualty reduction efforts for whole communities. Vocal, organised and affluent communities are more likely to access this hotline than socially deprived and disenfranchised communities. But children from these communities are five times more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident.
"Also, organised residents groups may ring in to complain about a couple of near misses on a certain road. Is Brake suggesting that scarce resources should be spent there, rather than at a junction further down the road at which, say, three motorcyclists have been killed - but their families have not called Zak the Zebra?"
The hotline is part of Brake's Watch Out There's a Kid About campaign, which aims to prevent child pedestrian casualties. Brake will use information and case studies collected through the hotline to raise awareness about child pedestrian safety, and to communicate with central government on child safety policy issues.
For further information contact Brake's Sarah Fatica on 01484 559909, . To view the 'Zak Pack hotlink visit