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Stephen Twigg on road safety

Stephen Twigg, is Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency for the Labour safe seat of West Derby.

New proposals from the Government to reduce speed limits have once again drawn attention to the numbers of unnecessary lives lost and people injured on our roads. Hardly a week goes by without us being able to open the pages of the Daily Post or Liverpool Echo and see yet another tragic account of a family whose world has been turned upside down when a loved one is killed in a car crash.

Nationally the latest figures show the smallest number of road deaths since records began in 1928. The decline in the numbers of people killed is, of course, welcome but 2946 road deaths in one year is still 2946 too many and works out at an average of 8 deaths every day.

When I was in Parliament previously I represented the Galli-Atkinson family whose beautiful daughter Livia was killed in 1998 by a driver who mounted a pavement. The driver was fined and the family felt utterly let down by the courts. Ever since, they have campaigned for stronger & more consistent sentences in road death cases and for better road safety education in our schools.

Road Peace is an excellent organisation which provides support for victims of road crashes as well as pressing Government and Parliament to treat road safety as an issue of priority.

Livia's Dad George now teaches about road safety in schools. This is vital work - both to protect children and young people from harm on our roads and to educate the drivers of tomorrow about driving safely. Safer Routes To School is a Government programme to encourage schools, parents and local communities to work together to promote safety around our schools and to reduce car use by parents bringing pupils to school.

Many parents drive their children to school because they fear for their safety. I know that more and more Liverpool schools are adopting School Travel Plans which promote safety as well as more environmentally friendly travel - for example the "walking bus". It is important that every school adopts such plans and that parents and pupils are fully involved in drawing them up.

Whilst Livia's parents are rightly angry with the way they were treated in court they have nothing but praise for the support they had from the Police. The role of the Family Liaison Officer in cases where people die on the roads is a vital one, requiring sensitivity and warmth. In the Met, there is now an annual Livia Award to recognise best practice by Police Officers in dealing with families affected by road crashes.

Attitudes to road death have certainly changed in recent years - thanks in no small part to campaigners in groups like Road Peace and Brake. However, sentencing by the courts remains inconsistent - which is an insult to the bereaved families concerned.

Having worked in Enfield on these important issues I am pleased to have the opportunity to do the same here in Liverpool so that other families do not have to suffer the heartache that Livia's parents and sister have endured these past 11 years.

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