The rise of UK road related deaths: the true cost of cutting back on educational funding

It’s fair to say that we as a company have been hit fairly hard with all of the government cut backs, especially with regard to road safety education within schools and colleges.  Two years ago TfL cut funding for two of our successful theatre productions that dealt with important issues of road safety. The two shows had been touring across London boroughs with much success for several years. The Price played to audiences aged 12-13 years, educating them about the dangers of not being responsible or paying attention on the roads, whilst Wasted, aimed at ages 14 and above, introduced issues of passenger responsibility, the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs as well as the choices you have when facing pressure from irresponsible drivers.  Although Walking Forward can’t take all of the credit for numbers of fatalities and casualties on UK roads dwindling in recent years, we can be proud to say we were part of a process that was getting messages through and was actually working.  Over the years, local governments had gradually developed many methods of road safety awareness, helping to bring numbers of fatalities and casualties down.  We were part of that continual conditioning process.  Our powerful messages were carefully designed to make children and teenagers think differently, giving them an experience they could remember in a safe environment, and educating them about their choices on the roads.

I spoke to one Road Safety Manager recently (a manager to himself alone after his five team members were made redundant last year!) who told me that they don’t have any funding to do any education in schools anymore and that he spends his time simply managing school crossing patrols.  Another told me that unless the number of child casualties on roads go up again, they weren’t prepared fund theatre tours aimed at children at all.  Well, guess what?  The numbers ARE rising again, so as a country we better start thinking about reintroducing the educational methods that were used five, six and seven years ago that WERE actually working!

The cost of one lost life on a UK road is far greater than a whole year’s worth of educational film and theatre! And, if gripping, dramatic, moving films, and in particular interactive films were utilised effectively all over the UK, within classrooms and workplaces, then millions of pounds and, more importantly, thousands of lives could be saved each year. Surely that makes sense doesn’t it?!