Road Safety News

Cambridgeshire pupils strike the right note

Thursday 7th February 2013

A ‘protest song’ about parking outside schools, written by a Cambridgeshire primary school pupil, has been made into an ad that is currently being broadcast on a local radio station.

Schools across Cambridgeshire were invited by the council’s road safety team and Heart Radio to write a song, rhyme, or poem about irresponsible parking outside schools.

The winning individual entry, ‘Lives on the Lines’, was composed by Hannah Wallace, a pupil at Stretham Community Primary School and is now enjoying a four-week run on Heart. Hannah’s prize was a £200 voucher and a tour of the Heart studios.

The competition judges said: “The song is simple and direct, as all message or protest songs should be. It addresses a single issue and speaks from the heart. A protest song should leave the listener with a direct, achievable piece of advice or a call to action. That’s why this song is such a deserving winner.”

Jagged Yellow Lines’, by Year 5 pupils at Willingham Primary School, was the winning entry submitted by a whole class. The prize for the winning school was a Minipod bike and scooter rack (pictured) worth £1,399, donated by Cyclepods.

James Singleterry, class teacher, said: “The children immediately thought about why people park outside school and the reasons why it’s not a good idea. They then came up with a catchy tune, which is hard for listeners to forget. We hope it will get the message home to the people who park outside the school gates.”

Rosemary Mullen, Cambridgeshire County Council’s safer routes to school officer, said: “Once again, children have shown that they care about the important issues that affect them and are prepared to do something about it. In this case, working to produce songs that can capture an audience and deal effectively with important issues, the competition entries did just this.”

For more information contact Rosemary Mullen on 01223 699958.


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Tim, thank you for your response. Your authority must be one of the only ones that has a supportive police force.

According to the Highway Code an offence is only committed under the Road Traffic Regulations Act which does require such signage prohibiting stopping outside a school.

They did try in Lancashire, summonsing drivers under this Act, but had to withdraw the summonses when it was pointed out that they had not committed any offence.

It may now be that the LA pay for such signs as times change.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (3)

Eric, thanks for the manifesto and Rod and Dave, thanks for your responses. Let's consider that one closed now - and let our readers decide through the agree/disagree facility who they are with!
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

Sorry, this might be more than 150 words. Lets look at that manifesto in a bit of detail - I've ignored the first two as there's no point arguing about cameras and limits here.

3 In many areas partnerships are the only source of road safety work due to spending cuts in local authorities. In some local authorities the road safety unit is one or two people with almost no budget due to spending cuts centrally and locally so they’re unlikely to be able to deliver anything above basic services. Closing partnerships would effectively remove road safety work from many areas – partnerships fund other initiatives in schools and colleges they don’t just do cameras.
4.How? Driver training is done on a commercial scale and mostly this aims to get people to test standard. Make the test longer and harder and more expensive and people won't bother and will drive illegally.
5 Most of the stats teams do all sorts of stats not just road safety and they get a salary regardless of the whether casualties go up or down.
6 Most forces are cutting numbers of officers and vehicles and elected commissioners mean officers can and are being redeployed to focus on knife crime or burglary so this unrealistic.
7 these facilities exist, drivers just don’t use them and most do not want to pay for training they don’t think they need. There’s no budget to fund this from local authorities.
8 Advertising is expensive, there’s little budget for this (see point 3) and if simply telling people to be better drivers worked road casualties would be virtually non existent. Inappropriate speed can and does kill, speed management is part of good driving (as is operating within road traffic law) so it’s not something that could be ignored in driver training.
9. People ignore these once they’re used to them so they only have short term benefit and they’re expensive (see point 3), cameras at least pay for themselves.
10) kids (and some adults) are wont to do daft impulsive things, they are children after all, so no matter how much you teach them they are likely to run into the road occasionally, it’s why drivers need to be aware of them and not doing 47 in a 30, for example.

This doesn’t seem to have been thought through and it’s more a high level wish list of things. There seems to be the mistaken idea that road safety officers sit around thinking of ways to make life difficult for motorists. They don’t, all the ones I have met are dedicated hard working passionate people who do the very best they can with limited resources and under currently very difficult circumstances which is why I take such offence to those who can only criticise and pour scorn on their efforts and don’t seem to have a clue what it’s like to work in the road safety industry. Perhaps a week or two volunteering with a local road safety team (big society and all that) might be a great idea for those wanting to understand what it’s actually about.
Dave, Leeds

Agree (12) | Disagree (4)

I obviously should have said "Close down CAMERA Partnerships".
My apologies to all other partnerships.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

Response to manifesto:-
1. Setting speed limits to what fastest 15% think is safe!
2. Foolish to think that without speed cameras then casualties would fall.
3. It's already with council and police and community thru partnerships.
4. Studies show driver training has little effect compared with speed reduction.
6. Yes, maybe have device which could assist police in detecting drivers breaking the law. They could take a picture of offenders! Could call them speed cameras.
7. Easier for them to not drive or drive slower when such conditions exist.
8. Speed doesn't necessarily kill, but it stops people avoiding killing other people by giving insufficient time for avoiding action.
9. Most of the public would prefer speeders to be caught and given points.
10. Children don't have ability to process vehicle speeds above 20mph sufficiently well to ensure safety. Hence needs responsible adults to adjust driving speed so that they can avoid relying upon children's acuity.

So thanks for your manifesto, but it won't get my vote, nor I suspect many Road Safety Officers.
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (9) | Disagree (6)

Perhaps we should get the council, police, fire and health services working together to join expertise and resources to reduce the number of people injured on our roads.Oh! That would be called a road safety partnership!
Ruth, up north

Agree (23) | Disagree (1)

Dave, a “Road Safety Manifesto”:

1. Review all speed limits and adjust to the 85%ile speed to restore the intrinsic value in them. Resist the tendency to believe that reducing speed limits improves road safety - there is no evidence to support that.
2 Remove “road safety” devices/systems that have a net negative effect on road safety i.e. hazard cameras and other dangerous interventions known to cause or contribute to collisions.
3 Close down Partnerships, return road safety to council officers and police.
4 Improve driver training – focus on “Roadcraft”, identifying and dealing with hazards and creating a safety margin around your vehicle. Close down speed-awareness courses.
5 Employ competent independent safety experts and statisticians whose job does not depend on showing road safety in a good light.
6 Increase police patrols, and make sure they are willing to stop and deal with poor driving of all kinds.
7 Make facilities available for drivers to train away from the road - eg skid pan.
8 Advertising campaigns, pushing the basics of good driving. Not alarmist and harmful "speed kills" messages.
9 Consider installing vehicle activated speed signs (as a public relations exercise) where speed cameras are removed.
10) Ensure all road users, especially children know how to cross the road and be safe near traffic.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (5) | Disagree (12)

Great work, getting young people involved and thinking about a safer, better road environment is a good step forward.

Eric, if you're running an independant road safety research organisation why not research what can, could or does work rather than just pointing out what can't, doesn't or won't? You claim to be 'too busy' to work on the good but you're clearly not too busy to focus on what you think is bad.
Dave, Leeds

Agree (17) | Disagree (2)

Well done kids. And please don't worry about grumpy old Uncle Eric. He really hates for people in communities having any say on what happens in the public spaces that we call streets.
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (12) | Disagree (6)

FAO Bob Craven. My local Police are quite amenable to fining motorists for obstruction of the highway where there are school keep clear markings with or without "the big yellow sign". The markings are proof enough that vehicles should not be stationed there. Where the sign comes in handy is where a traffic regulation order is required for civil enforcement to be undertaken. We, like many Local Authorities carry this out proactively, and although most of our schools have traffic regulation orders now, they are not charged for this as a rule.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (13) | Disagree (1)

Eric, I'm afraid you appear to have missed the point of this campaign which was for the pupils themselves to write a rhyme, poem or song to encourage people not to park/drive dangerously outside their school. In order to do this the pupils have discussed the issues with their peers, teachers and parents, in turn encouraging the school community to own the problem and think about ways to improve the situation.

The feedback from schools, parents and pupils in this respect has been excellent and, regardless of whether you like the tune or their choice of words, the campaign has enthused a new generation of road safety ambassadors.

The overall winning entry, by Hannah Wallace is currently being aired on Heart in Cambridgeshire.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

Agree (25) | Disagree (0)


My full time safety engineering job does not leave the sort of time required to develop "road safety programmes".

It's actually akin to safety engineering - when faced with a system, eliminate/mitigate what is wrong/harmful, which usually provides quick wins. Then there is scope for developing improvements and smarter ways.

I know that there are many committed and knowledgeable RSOs but my experience is that they are often prepared to believe what is patently wrong.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (1) | Disagree (33)


Instead of knocking nearly every road safety education programme that hard working RSOs have come up with, why don't you use your independent road safety research to develop your own programmes that authorities could use?

Agree (39) | Disagree (0)

This is all very well, mistaken or not but let's face it if there are zig zag lines outside a school they have been put there for a purpose but the police take no action. One reason is because they cannot prove an offence unless the school is willing to pay for the big yellow NO PARKING OR STOPPING signs that are required by law to make it an offence. Not that there are any police officers about anyway.

I will say this again we need an active and pro active police force or other organisation that will administer the road traffic laws as they are there for all our safety and we need this as a deterent.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (10) | Disagree (1)

Has anyone else played the video? It's hardly a "catchy tune" but, more importantly, the lyric is flawed. It says "when you drive near zig-zag lines ... do not apply the brake" (to rhyme with "mistake"). They mean "do not stop/park" on the zig-zag lines. Not applying the brake is quite different and not what they mean. I often wonder what message we give our children and under whose guidance.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (3) | Disagree (15)