The proportional share of death and serious injury on the roads involving children aged under five is at the highest level for 10 years, according to a report.
Pedestrian casualties for girls aged under eight are now at their highest level since 2005, says the report from insurance company AXA and road safety groups. Road casualties among girls under eight rose by 38% between 2010 and 2011, while reported cases of girls aged five to seven in serious accidents when walking have increased by 45% in the past five years.
Thirty-two per cent of pedestrians involved in serious accidents during the school run are 11-12-year-olds while the pedestrian casualty rate for girls rises steeply from the age of 11, and 11-year-old girls are three times as likely to be involved in an accident as a 10-year-old.
The findings were based on AXA-commissioned research from agency Opinium, which submitted requests under the Freedom of Information Act. AXA also published the results of a survey of mobile phone usage among 1,000 young people aged eight -18.
This survey showed that an 11-year-old is six times more likely to text on the way to school than a 10-year-old - possibly due to going to secondary school for the first time, and being given more independence and the age of 11, the highest risk age for child pedestrians, is now the average age at which children receive their first mobile phone.
By the age of 12, nearly 73% of children have a mobile phone, while 25% of 12-year-olds acknowledge that they have been distracted by personal technology when crossing a road, the poll showed. Almost half (46%) of 11 and 12-year-olds say they use their phones most from 3pm to 6pm and a 12-15-year-old is more than four times as likely to be involved in an accident as a passenger, than an eight-to-11-year-old.
Adrian Walsh, founder of road safety lobbying group RoadSafe, said: "Parents often ask for guidance on how best to keep their children safe on our roads. They need to know when and where they may be at risk, whether travelling in cars, walking, cycling or playing. This report helps to put these risks into context."
James Barclay, of AXA car insurance, said: "We are passionate about road safety and the number of children at risk while on their journey to and from school remains far too high."
Road safety minister Stephen Hammond said: "Road deaths are at a record low and child casualties have fallen considerably in recent years but I am determined to make our roads even safer. That is why we are improving road safety education resources for schools, making it easier for councils to put in place 20mph zones on their roads and are increasing fixed penalties for offences such as driving while using a mobile phone from £60 to £100. By combining education, enforcement and engineering measures such as these, we will continue to reduce deaths and injuries on our roads."
Institute of Advanced Motorists chief executive Simon Best said: "While the people in the car are much safer, in the case of a crash with a child pedestrian or cyclist the front of the car is not as forgiving. Much more can and should be done through car design to minimise the damage caused by hard metal on soft tissue."