Scotland’s most dangerous school runs revealed – bad news for Edinburgh

Edinburgh (Photo: © McAteer)

NEW analysis has revealed which school runs are the riskiest for young pedestrians in Scotland, based on the likelihood of being involved in a fatal car accident – and the schoolchildren of the City of Edinburgh are most at risk. 

The research, pulled together by personal injury experts at, analysed the latest Department for Transport data on reported road casualties, focusing on incidents involving a pedestrian aged 15 or under which took place on an urban road with a speed limit of 20mph.

Each area was then assigned a score out of ten to determine its risk factor – with the City of Edinburgh revealed as the place where pupils are most at risk on their way to school.  

Despite all roads near schools having a 20mph speed limit to reduce child deaths, accidents can still happen, particularly if roads have poor visibility or come off busy main roads. 

In the City of Edinburgh, an average of 14.3 pedestrians aged 15 or under per 100k of the population are involved in a fatal crash each year, making it home to the deadliest school runs. This figure is also a staggering 411% higher than the national average (2.8 incidents per year).   

Following the City of Edinburgh as home to the second-riskiest school routes is East Lothian, with an annual average of 11 deaths per 100k reported. Fife is the third deadliest, with 9.9 deaths reported per year – which is still 254% higher than the national average.  

Of the areas that have seen the lowest fatality rate – yet still pose some risk – Aberdeenshire was among the safest with just 0.4 deaths per 100k reported annually, while North Ayrshire (0.8) and Bracknell Forest (0.8) were also significantly less dangerous than other parts of Scotland.

However, parents living in areas like Inverclyde, Shetland Islands and West Dunbartonshire should feel the safest waving their children off to school, as these are three of the seven areas where no accidents involving schoolchildren on 20mph roads occurred over the last four years.

The 10 councils that report the most schoolchildren road casualties 

 Councils Crashes per 100K Risk Score (out of 10) 
City of Edinburgh14.25 10.00 
East Lothian10.95 7.69
Fife9.87 6.93
West Lothian6.47 4.54
Clackmannanshire5.82 4.09
Dumfries and Galloway4.703.30 
Orkney Islands4.44 3.11 
Highland3.36 2.36 
Perth and Kinross 3.25 2.28 
10 Midlothian3.17 2.22 

While some of these areas have consistently reported a high fatality rate year-on-year, others have reported a decline, suggesting that the danger may be lessening.  

From 2018 to 2020, the figures for the City of Edinburgh declined, decreasing from 24 to 13 – a 46% drop in the number of incidents.

While it’s unclear why this occurred, it could be due to increased road safety measures in at-risk areas, although 2021 saw the figure shoot back up to 18.

In comparison, South Lanarkshire may creep its way up the risky ranking. The residential area has narrowly missed out placing in the top 10 most dangerous, with 2.17 incidents reported per 100k.

Its figures have increased substantially since 2018, initially reporting 0 fatal car accidents to having 5 in 2021.

Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson says: “While no one likes to think about young people being put at risk, it’s clear that some school runs are more dangerous than others for school-age pedestrians – and that prioritising their safety is key. 

“You aren’t able to control when an accident happens, but you can ensure that you teach your child road safety tips to help equip them with the life skills they need to navigate the school run. You may also want to identify any road safety signs that could be improved, and request these from your local council – especially if it’s something like better street lighting or a safe crossing.” 

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