Powerful pop-up exhibit illustrates Last Steps of pedestrians killed on Greater Manchester roads

A powerful exhibition illustrating the lives shattered by the impact of fatal road traffic collisions has appeared in Manchester city centre (today).

The ‘Last Steps’ installation comprises 25 white plinths representing the number of pedestrians killed crossing or walking along Greater Manchester’s roads in 2022.

On each of the plinths, marked with the ages and genders of those killed, rests a pair of shoes, symbolising their last steps and a life lost.

The pop-up display forms part of the wider Last Steps campaign by the Safer Roads Partnership, which includes Transport for Greater Manchester and local emergency and health services.

Drivers are being urged to take extra care on the roads and look carefully for people crossing the road as the night become darker.

The campaign is being supported by the family of 18-year-old Marcus Simmons-Allen, who died in hospital after being hit by a car travelling almost twice the speed limit* in Altrincham in October 2021.

Marcus Simmons-Allen died after being hit by a speeding driver in Altrincham in 2021

Paula Allen, Marcus’ mother, visited the Last Steps exhibition in Piccadilly Gardens on Tuesday, bringing along the shoes her son was wearing when he was killed near his home.

Paula said: “It was incredibly poignant to visit the exhibit which really helps to bring the Last Steps campaign to life and highlights the heartbreaking human cost of fatal road collisions.

“Behind each pair of shoes is a person who, like my son Marcus, had hopes and dreams. Their deaths will have devastated their families, but the ripple effect of fatal road collisions extends beyond immediate family to friends and the wider community.

“I hope everyone who has seen this exhibit, particularly drivers, will stop, reflect and share what they have learned with their friends and family.

“I would never want another family to go through what we have, and I would urge all drivers to take extra care on darker nights and always keep a look out for pedestrians crossing the road.”

Paula Allen 2

On the night of October 10, 2021, Marcus had met a friend for a short walk near to his home in Broadheath. They were crossing George Richards Way when a speeding driver came towards them.

Marcus’ friend attempted to pull him out of the path of the oncoming vehicle, but Marcus was struck and fatally injured. Police say the driver had been travelling between 55 and 67 mph, around twice the 30mph limit.

His friend ran for help and found Paula, who lived only a short distance away. They then went back to the scene of the crash, found Marcus and called the emergency services.

Marcus was taken to Salford Royal Hospital and cared for in the intensive care unit, but his life couldn’t be saved. He died the following day on Monday, 11 October 2021.

As part of Last Steps, Paula and her family have shared their story as part of a compelling video to promote the campaign. They have also shared images of Marcus and the trainers he was wearing on the night of the crash to show the stark, human cost of reckless driving.

The 25 pedestrians killed on Greater Manchester’s roads in 2022 amounted to 39% of all road fatalities that year. Between 2017 and 2021, a further 123 pedestrians were killed and 1,004 seriously injured across the region.

Research has shown that children, young people and elderly people are more likely to be involved in serious collisions. 

Chief Inspector Ronnie Neilson of Greater Manchester Police’s Safer Transport Unit added: “Careless or dangerous driving can have devastating consequences, as Marcus Simmons-Allen’s story has shown, and the risk to pedestrians is even higher on darker nights.

“I would urge drivers to always look carefully for pedestrians and of course always watch your speed.

“We are backing the Last Steps campaign as part of our commitment to ridding the road of careless drivers and we hope it reminds all drivers to stay extra alert on dark evenings.”

Paula Allen and Chief Inspector Ronnie Neilson

Top tips for safe driving in the dark

You can help keep us all safe this winter by following some simple rules.

  • Look carefully: Keep an extra eye out for pedestrians, as they’re much harder to spot in the dark. 
  • Be patient: Give people the time they need to cross the road at junctions and crossings.
  • Watch your speed: Take your time, look out for unexpected movements, and be ready to stop safely. Most pedestrian collisions take place in a 30mph zone. 
  • Stay alert: Take extra care around schools and residential areas. Don’t drive if you’re too tired.
  • Check your vehicle: Keep your windows and mirrors clean and clear of condensation and frost. Make sure all your lights are working and you’re using them right.

In addition, under recent changes to the Highway Code, drivers at a junction should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road.

Drivers should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing.

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