Here's the Ready Brek press release, produced and disseminated by Biss Lancaster, a top London PR consultancy.
Good in parts, the release is more likely to keep kids in cars than convince parents to let their offspring walk or cycle to school. One of the reasons for this is the stat: "14 231 children killed or injured as pedestrians on the road last year." Most, of course, were injured but the 'killed' bit sticks in the mind...
The release could have been much more positive: an opportunity lost or is all publicity good publicity?
The Ready Break road safety website is much more positive and contains none of the alarmist information in the Biss Lancaster release.
A link to the BMJ editorial slamming PR company concocted research is below the Biss Lancaster release.
Red Light to Road Safety
LONDON: Nearly two thirds of parents are so worried about protection from
abduction that they are not teaching their children basic road safety
according to the research released today. The study has found over 60% of parents who drive their child to school
would allow their children to walk or cycle if they knew they would be
protected from strangers. The more common dangers of being hit by a car or
knocked off a bicycle, however, are less of a priority despite 14, 231 (1)
children being killed or injured as pedestrians on the road last year. Ready Brek surveyed parents and children about improvements they would
like to see local authorities making to their roads. According to the
research conducted as part of Ready Brek's road safety education in primary
schools parents are worried about the conditions of their roads with 77%
considering the roads in their local area to be un-safe for children. Liz Barkwith, Senior Accident Prevention Officer, LARSOA comments, "the
research is valuable feedback from those we are trying to protect. Parents
must realise that the most effective way to raise their child's road safety
awareness is to teach them by example. Children are not able to judge
distance and speed of traffic so it is even more important that they are
taught basic rules to follow for example obeying traffic lights at all times. 13 children get killed or seriously injured on the road each day - it is
essential parents are confident they are ready for the road, my advice is to
plan and practice every day journeys and if children do go on their own
follow and make sure they are acting as you showed." The survey found that 41% of parents who drove to and from school
actually lived less than a mile away. Barkwith comments: "Children travelling
regularly by car don't get the road experience or develop the awareness that
those who walk or cycle do. Parents who live so close to the school grounds
need to make a committed effort to teach their child road skills by not
driving. They would also help reduce congestion."
Interesting survey findings: - Alarmingly, over half of the children surveyed (51%) admitted that they
do not always wear a cycle helmet - 17% of children questioned thought travelling to school by car was the
ideal way to get to school - Three times more children would like to cycle to school than actually
do - Nearly a third of their parents (31%) would be more likely to let their
child cycle if there were sufficient cycle paths in place Ready Brek asked parents for their top ten road improvement suggestions
they would like to see in place: 1 More pedestrian crossings
2 More School Crossing Patrollers / Lollipop Persons / ensure that a lollipop person is on duty at all times
3 More cycle paths / lanes
4 Fewer parked cars and increased car parking restrictions
5= General speed restrictions / limits
5= Fewer cars on the road
7 Increased traffic calming measures: more speed bumps / ramps / cushions / sleeping policeman
8 The lowering of speed limits near schools
9 A greater police presence
10 More speed cameras Notes to editors: (1) www.thinkroadsafety.gov.uk - Research was carried out with a sample of 500 parents with primary
school aged children. - Log on to www.readybrek.co.uk/roadsafety for more road safety
- Ready Brek is the kid's hot oat cereal produced by Weetabix Ltd
"PR research is intrinsically flawed because it is completed in a short space of time with no ethical approval nor peer review. Often the PR company has decided on the outcome way before the study begins. Where experts are involved they are unlikely to design or analyse the research, and are often provided with quotes to say about the study by the PR company....Such studies are driven by potential headlines, not a hypothesis or an awareness of existing data. So PR research has outcomes that directly contradict existing evidence, make no reference to it, or replicate it on a far shoddier level (for example a magazine survey of the nation's health may hit the headlines, even though national health data also exists)....Now it is time to extend the debate before the public becomes completely disillusioned with so-called research.