In a passionate plea to the Leader of the House, Barry Sheerman, the Member of Parliament for Huddersfield representing the Labour Party, highlighted the urgent need to address the issue of road safety and child fatalities. During the Business of the House debate on Thursday, 29 June 2023, Sheerman emphasised the alarming disregard for seatbelt legislation, which has resulted in the tragic loss of young lives.
Referring to his own longstanding commitment to road safety, Sheerman recalled how, more than four decades ago, a newspaper article referred to him and the Father of the House, Sir Peter Bottomley, as “road safety nuts” due to their tireless campaign for seatbelt legislation. Undeterred by criticism, their efforts have since saved countless lives. However, recent evidence suggests that compliance with seatbelt laws has waned, leading to an increase in road traffic accidents and the tragic loss of children’s lives.
Sheerman drew attention to a sobering statement from the World Health Organisation (WHO), issued just last week, which identified death on the road as the primary cause of mortality among children and young people worldwide, surpassing even disease-related fatalities. Concerned by this distressing reality, the MP for Huddersfield called on the Leader of the House to facilitate a debate within the Government’s allotted time to address this global issue and explore potential solutions to prevent further loss of young lives.
In response, Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the House of Commons, commended Sheerman for his relentless advocacy on road safety matters. Drawing from her experience in the International Development Department, Mordaunt acknowledged the severe impact of road traffic accidents, which not only claim lives but also cause extensive trauma worldwide. She stressed the importance of reminding individuals about their legal responsibilities and emphasized the effectiveness of measures such as seatbelt laws.
Mordaunt offered her congratulations to Sheerman for his instrumental role in securing the legislation that has proved crucial in safeguarding lives over the years. While not explicitly committing to a debate in Government time, her response acknowledged the significance of addressing this pressing issue and the need for collaborative efforts on a global scale.
The plea by Barry Sheerman MP has ignited a vital discussion regarding road safety and the protection of children. As the alarming statistics continue to highlight the dangers faced by young people on the roads, the urgent need for action becomes increasingly evident. With the commitment of passionate individuals like Sheerman, there is hope for effective strategies and measures to combat this devastating trend and ensure the safety of children worldwide.