Pictured: Timothy Hackworth Primary School’s young Junior Road Safety Officers pictured with teacher Mrs Dykes.

Pupils have joined the call for drivers to slow down after the latest figures showed that one fifth of fatalities on North East roads involved a speeding driver.

Children from Timothy Hackworth Primary School in Shildon, in County Durham and Errington Primary School in Marske, have thrown their weight behind the campaign by Road Safety GB North East (RSGB NE) and police and fire services in appealing for motorists to slow down and look out for each other.

During the past five years, there have been 1,185 road casualties in the region where speed was a factor. Of them, 48 people were killed and 357 were seriously injured.

Of those collisions, two-thirds of the drivers were aged between 17 and 34, where their speed, coupled with a possible lack of experience, were seen as contributing factors, particularly in poor weather conditions.

RSGB NE Chair Peter Slater said “We want to remind all road users that speed limits are there for a reason. People should drive for the roads and the conditions. Driving at a higher speed means you have less time to react. The faster you’re driving, the more likely someone will be killed in a collision, especially pedestrians. Nobody wants that on their conscience.”

The figures showed that half of these collisions happened within three miles of the driver’s home and within a 30mph limit, showing that people are likely to speed on smaller roads they are very familiar with.

Headteacher Timothy Hackworth Primary School, Lynn Boulton said she was very glad to support the campaign.

She said: “Teaching children about road safety is essential. Our children are using their pupil voice to educate drivers about these concerns. More awareness-raising is necessary to help children to have their right to be safe.”

Pupils from Errington Primary School in Marske pictured with Headteacher Sarah Rule.

Be safe: Pupils from Errington Primary School in Marske pictured with Headteacher Sarah Rule.

Errington Primary School, Headteacher Sarah Rule said: “I’m always concerned about the speed in which cars pass school, as well as how people park to drop off their children, restricting the view of pedestrians, especially at the beginning or end of the school day. Pupil safety is our first priority.”

Inspector Kevin Salter, from Durham Roads and Armed Policing Unit, said: “As part of our jobs, we see the devastation left behind when someone is killed or seriously injured by a speeding driver, and it is heart-breaking seeing families having to come to terms with something that could have been so easily avoided. The message is simple, just slow down.”

Andrew Bright, Road Safety Co-ordinator at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Our first responders see at first hand the consequences of excessive or inappropriate speed and this goes far beyond twisted metal, with so many lives unnecessarily put in harm’s way. If you’re running late, don’t be tempted to push the limits or take risks, plan ahead and give yourself plenty of travel time to ensure you arrive safely.”

Group Manager Steve Thomas, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “People need to remember that breaking the speed limit is illegal and the repercussions don’t only affect the person driving the vehicle, but a whole host of individuals.

“Speeding is a choice. Please make a good choice today – drive safely and within the speed limits.”

Chief Inspector Alan Pitchford, of Northumbria Police, said: “These statistics sadly confirm just how often speeding is found to be a factor in road casualties.

“Speed limits are in place for a reason, and they should not be viewed as a target. People should always adjust their driving according to the roads and the conditions.”

The breakdown across local authority areas of road collisions involving a speeding driver between 2019 and 2023 is below. As County Durham is a large, rural county, with a number of ‘A’ roads, it would be expected to have a higher incidence of collisions, including those due to speeding.

Number and severity of speed-related casualties by local authority in the North East

Local Authority Fatal Serious Slight Total
County Durham 13 82 117 212
Darlington 2 17 28 47
Gateshead 2 19 56 77
Hartlepool 5 24 81 110
Middlesbrough 2 32 85 119
Newcastle upon Tyne 1 24 65 90
North Tyneside 1 6 35 42
Northumberland 4 49 57 110
Redcar and Cleveland 8 32 80 120
South Tyneside 0 8 12 20
Stockton-on-Tees 5 37 102 144
Sunderland 5 27 62 94
Total 48 357 780 1,185