Fourteen kids injured in the school run every day

Summary

Half of school-related traffic accidents in Flanders involve children on bicycles

Risky roads

Each school day an average of 14 pupils in Belgium are involved in traffic accidents on their way to or from school, according to figures released by traffic safety institute Vias. In Flanders, half of these accidents involve kids riding bicycles.

The figures show that between 2015 and 2019 an average of 2,500 children each year were involved in traffic accidents on their way to or from school. While the trend is slightly down year-on-year, Vias sees no reason to be reassured.

It observes that the risk of an accident increases sharply at the ages of 12 and 16. At 12 many children begin to go to school independently, and at 16 they often switch to riskier means of transport, such as mopeds.

The end of the school day sees more accidents than the beginning, with one-third more victims on the home run. There are also more accidents on Thursday and Friday evenings.

“Fatigue and haste at the end of the school week will certainly play a role in this, both for the children and for other road users,” Vias says.

Making existing pedestrian and cycle paths safer can often be achieved with simple interventions

- Minister Lydia Peeters

There are striking differences between the Belgian regions. In Brussels, the majority of children involved in accidents going to or from school are on foot, while in Wallonia the riskiest place to be is the passenger seat of a car. In Flanders, meanwhile, half of accidents involve children on bicycles.

The issue is already a priority for Flemish transport minister Lydia Peeters, who announced last week that she wants to invest more money in safer cycle routes to school. This is on top of an existing subsidy for local authorities who want to make the streets around schools safer.  

“Many local authorities already have school route maps showing places where traffic is unsafe, and these must be eliminated as much as possible,” Peeters said. “Making existing pedestrian and cycle paths safer can often be achieved with simple interventions, the results of which are quickly seen and felt.”

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