THE parents and grandmother of a child knocked down and killed by a speeding motorist have thrown their weight behind a campaign to cut speeds outside schools.
Currently only one school in County Durham – at Ferryhill – has a 20mph restriction on the road outside but the road safety charity Brake is trying to change that by calling for widespread 20mph limits in built up areas.
And yesterday Debbie and David Cameron, and Debbie’s mother Marie Hedley, supported the Brake campaign at Red Rose Primary School in York Terrace, in Chester-le-Street town centre.
The campaign aims to promote a speed limit of 20mph in built-up areas, encouraging drivers to drop to 20, even where they are not required to do so by law.
Debbie and David Cameron lost their seven-year-old son David junior when he was knocked off his bike in 2004. David had been cycling with friends on Stamfordham Road, Newcastle, when he was hit by 21-year-old Mark Tye doing 61mph in a 40mph zone.
Mr Cameron, whose son would have turned 16 this year, said a campaign to reduce speed limits to 20mph in built-up areas in Scotland was already a success.
He said: “If it can work there it should be able to work in England. Some local authorities are getting the message, including Newcastle where some schools have introduced a 20mph limit, and also Middlesbrough.
“Anything which can reduce casualties and fatalities on the roads has to be welcomed and we will do anything to support the Brake campaign.”
Mr Cameron said he believed motorists should be required to take competency tests over a period of time after they pass their driving test.
His wife, who watched as paramedics tried to save her son to no avail, said: “We were devastated when David was killed and still suffer anguish every day – all because of one person’s selfish, reckless actions behind the wheel.
“You can try to imagine how you’d feel if your son or daughter were knocked down, but you can’t imagine the hole it’s left. I want drivers to think of David and slow down to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops.”
Police Community Support Officer Adrian Richardson said the busy A167 dual carriageway was just yards from the Red Rose Primary School and speeding traffic along it was of local concern.
“We would not expect a 20 miles per hour limit on the dual carriageway but one outside the school would be a welcome safety measure,” he added.
Last week Durham’s new Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg admitted he was surprised by how big a concern speeding was among the public in the county when he was out canvassing for votes.
Nick Batty, campaign spokesman for Brake, said: “Everyone in the North East should be able to walk and cycle in their community without fear or threat.
“Anyone who drives can help bring this about. We would urge motorists to pledge to Go 20 in communities, even where the limit’s still 30, you’ll be helping to protect people around you, and you’ll hardly notice the difference to your journey.
“We’re also calling on the Government and more local authorities to recognise the need for 20mph, and the huge demand for safe walking and cycling, and Go 20.”