New report outlines road safety strategies for keeping children safe

12.00 | 17 April 2015 | | 4 comments

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.



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    I imagine they are not strictly in order of importance, but I personally believe from our stats that ’10’ would make a huge difference, particularly in the under 5yr olds.

    Olly, Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)


    You claim “the best quality evidence (where selection effects have been eliminated) suggests this is likely to lead to more road deaths.”

    “This” being “controlling speed”.

    Can you provide a link to a document that substantiates this? Perhaps also a document that shows that the uncontrolled speeds will lead to lower road deaths would be useful as well.

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    WHO’s No1 intervention is speed management (lower speed limits and speed cameras, along with a mass prosecution system like we have in Britain). The problem is that, although there is a wealth of evidence suggesting this might reduce road deaths, the best quality evidence (where selection effects have been eliminated) suggests this is likely to lead to more road deaths.

    Why have medical drugs been so successful at reducing child deaths around the world? It’s because these drugs are tested in scientific trials. We have a golden opportunity to do the same in road safety, Let’s introduce road safety interventions within scientific trials where possible and, by doing so, turn the WHOs political aspirations into real safety engineering. Let’s make sure we really do “Save Kids Lives”.

    Dave Finney, Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    They could have said: ‘Improving distances between vehicles so that children can see and been seen more.’

    That would have been appropriate. Otherwise how are we going to improve the visibility of vehicles and children?

    Bob Craven Lancs…. Space is Safe Campaigner
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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