Communications News: Campaign of the week - Brake targets accidentblack spots

Brake, the national road safety charity, has launched a Zak the Zebra hotline to find Britain's most dangerous roads.

The charity will use eyewitness reports given on the phoneline to name accident black spots in a campaigning dossier it will send to the Government during Road Safety Week in November.

Brake hopes its hotline will add anecdotal evidence to Department of Transport statistics in support of its demand that the Government introduce a 20mph speed limit outside every school. It also calls for the Government to fund more safe crossings and pavements, and to make road safety education compulsory in schools.

The charity is mainly concerned with dangerous roads near schools and residential areas, which put children on foot or bikes at risk of injury or death. Department for Transport figures show that road traffic accidents were the biggest single killer of children aged 12-16 in 2003. In that year, 74 child pedestrians under 16 were killed and 12,740 were injured on Britain's roads. Deaths of 8-19 year-olds on foot rose by 26 per cent to 110 between 2002 and 2003.

"The death toll on our roads is appalling, and not enough is being done to save our children's lives," said Mary Williams, chief executive of Brake. "We want people to report dangerous roads where crashes, injuries or near misses have occurred to help us gather evidence for our campaign."

Brake has also sent out specially adapted press releases in 10 regions across the UK, where parents of children who have been killed on local roads have agreed to be interviewed for the campaign.

The charity has conceived road safety mascot Zak the Zebra to make the campaign more memorable. Callers to the hotline will receive a free 'Zak pack', which includes tips on how to lobby local authorities for speed cameras and a template press release to help them set up campaigns and educate local road users. Free training sessions to improve local campaigning methods are also available.

The hotline represents an increase in activity for the charity's Watch Out There's a Kid About campaign.

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