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Battens Bring Life-Saving Lessons To Dorset Schools

battens road safety launch

11:59am 23rd December 2013

Hundreds of Dorset schoolchildren are to receive life-saving lessons in road safety thanks to a law firm’s charity arm.

Battens Solicitors Charitable Trust has teamed up with the SafeWise safety education partnership to provide training packs and free interactive resources for primary age pupils.

The £18,000 initiative will enable schools to hire a ‘Street Feet’ simulated road layout free of charge. The roll-out resource can be delivered direct to school premises. It comes with traffic signs and illustrated ‘vehicle’ vests for children to use in hands-on role-plays.

The trust is writing to more than 100 primary schools across Dorset to advise them of the scheme and has already pledged 40 cash donations in support, totalling £8,000, following initial outreach to school contacts.

In support of the initiative, a 14-week awareness campaign with safety messages will run on the School Report feature on Wessex FM’s Breakfast Show. Advice and messaging will be timed to coincide with the morning school run and complement the themes of national Road Safety Week taking place from 18 to 24 November.

The trust’s decision to focus on children’s safety awareness follows a dramatic reduction in the Department for Transport’s national budget for primary age road safety promotion. The government cut, from £3.78 million in 2009/2010 to just £78,000 in 2012/2013, has seen the scrapping of familiar television advertising including well known safety characters such as Green Cross Code Man and Tufty.

Stuart Allen, one of the trustees and a Director of Battens, said: “As there has been such a huge fall in funding for children’s road safety, we want to do what we can to help. We do a lot of compensation work for clients and we have seen the devastation that road traffic accidents can bring to families. We are providing funding from the trust to enable schools to work with resources in a way that suits them. We know teachers are best placed to help children learn in a safe way about how to make responsible decisions when they are out and about. Hopefully a strong safety message from the first years of primary schools will stay with the children as they grow older.”

Department for Transport statistics show police dealt with 2,415 casualties on Dorset’s roads last year including 24 deaths and 369 people seriously injured.  

Alison Shelton, Manager of SafeWise partner LV=Streetwise, said: “The targeting and timing of the campaign from Battens Charitable Trust are both very welcome. Road safety is an essential life skill that children should learn as early as practicable so focusing on those in primary education is absolutely right. Starting the campaign just as the nights are getting darker is ideal as it reiterates the vital issue of visibility in safe road use.”

Battens’ input has also been welcomed by Stuart Hann of Dorset Police’s Safe Schools & Communities Team. He said: “This campaign will give Dorset children a further head start in safety education and ultimately help to reduce the chances of accidents happening on our county’s roads in future.”   

Rich Andrew, Community Development Officer at Brake, the national charity which co-ordinates Road Safety Week, said: “Brake is delighted to support Battens’ campaign to promote life-saving road safety messages to children, parents and the wider community. It’s great to see local partners working together to help make their communities safer and we would encourage primary schools in the area to get involved.”

Battens’ campaign was launched with a reception at the SafeWise Centre in Weymouth. Among the guests were Wessex FM Breakfast Show presenter James O’Neill, local schoolchildren and representatives from road safety partners including the police and fire services.

Battens Charitable Trust was set up to aid good causes in the community. Last year the trust donated more than £31,000 to charities throughout Dorset and Somerset. 

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