The World Health Organisation has published a paper outlining “Ten strategies for keeping children safe on the road”, in support of Global Road Safety Week 2015* (4-10 May).
The paper points out “every four minutes a child is prematurely lost on the roads of this world (and) many more are injured, often severely”.
More than 186,000 children die each year in road crashes, which are the biggest cause of death among young people aged 15-17yrs; the third biggest cause of death among children aged 10-14yrs; and the fourth biggest cause of death among children aged 5-9 yrs.
The children most likely to die in a road traffic crash live in low- and middle-income countries, where 95% of road traffic fatalities among children occur. Even within countries, children from economically poor backgrounds are at greatest risk.
The introduction says: “These traumatic events cost societies precious resources, diverting these from other pressing health and development challenges.
“Many of the children who are victims of this man-made calamity are poor. Attempts to address road safety for children are, therefore, inextricably linked to notions of social justice, and should be part of global efforts to reduce poverty.
“For countries in a phase of rapid motorization, many of them middle-income countries, roads are often built without due consideration for the communities they pass through. Historically, this was also the case in high-income countries.
“A shift in mind set is desperately needed to ensure that roads everywhere serve the needs of and are safe for all who use them, including children, but also other vulnerable groups such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
“Such a change is imperative for ongoing efforts to promote healthy lifestyles. The walking, cycling and other physical activity that would do much to curb overweight and obesity in children will inevitably bring them into contact with the road. It is only if those roads are made safe that children will be inclined to use them and their parents and other caregivers will allow them to do so.”
The 10 strategies the paper outlines cover:
1 Controlling speed
2 Reducing drink and driving
3 Using helmets for bicyclists and motorcyclists
4 Restraining children in vehicles
5 Improving children’s ability to see and be seen
6 Enhancing road infrastructure
7 Adapting vehicle design
8 Reducing risks for young drivers
9 Providing appropriate care for injured children
10 Supervising children around roads
It explains the key issues associated with each of the above, and puts forward strategies to mitigate against the dangers.
Speaking in the report, Dr Margaret Chan, director general, World Health Organisation, said: “The future of a country is its young people. We cannot afford to lose our children to road crashes.”
The paper is currently available in English but will shortly also be published in French, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic.
An infographic and Powerpoint presentation will also be produced in multiple languages.