Keeping Our Children Safe On The Road
- AuthorMalcolm Underhill
Road Safety Week commences this week. Organised every year by Brake (the leading UK road safety charity), this is the UK’s biggest road safety event, supported by thousands of schools, organisations and communities each year.
IBB is proud to be a participant in the 2016 event.
Tragedy on our roads
According to the latest government report, the number of children dying on UK roads has remained fairly static since 2010, with around 50-60 young lives lost each year.
This is 50-60 children too many.
A further 1,910 children were seriously injured and 14,137 suffered slight trauma following road accidents last year.
As has been the case historically, child fatalities occur mainly in the pedestrian (25 fatalities in 2015) and car occupant (19 fatalities) categories, with a smaller number of pedal cyclists (6 fatalities). Almost a third of accidents happen between 3-5pm.
Worrying issues about children and road traffic accidents
The majority of victims are boys
Almost two-thirds of road accident victims under 15 years old are boys. This may be because boys traditionally play outside more, having higher activity levels and engaging in more risk-taking behaviour.
Children from low-income families and ethnic minorities are more likely to be killed on our roads.
According to a study done in 2010, Children from deprived areas are at far greater risk on the roads than those from richer areas They are also more likely to live in poorly lit areas and have less parental supervision. The research suggested youngsters in Preston are more than five times more likely to be injured than those in London's wealthy borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Campaigners say affluent children are less likely to spend time on the street as they have gardens to play in, and are driven around in safer cars.
Around half of all child seats are incorrectly fitted
A study by the AA and Devon County Council found that 24 percent of child car seats were too loose, 21 percent of the harnesses were too loose and 21 percent of the buckles were not fitted properly.
Other mistakes being made by parents include:
- incorrectly positioned harnesses
- misuse of car head restraints
- incorrect use of seat belts
- children being too big or small for the seat being used
- neglecting to deactivate the airbag if a small child is riding in the front seat
Most children do not wear cycle helmets
Statistics show that 82% of children under the age of 15 in the UK do not wear a cycle helmet. Cycle helmets are a simple, cheap and effective way of reducing serious injury. So much so that the risk of serious brain injury as a result of falling from a bike can be reduced by 90% if a cycle helmet is worn. Australia has seen a significant reduction in head injury after mandating helmet use in the early 1990’s – nearly 50% in some parts of the country. The simple message is that head protection works and should therefore be encouraged for children of all ages.
Initiatives to promote road safety
Alongside Road Safety week, Brake has created a number of initiatives designed to promote safe roads for children. These include:
- GO 20 – encouraging drivers to slow to 20mph in communities
- Roads to Justice – campaigning for tougher sentences for drivers who kill or injure
- Too Young to Die - better driver training and testing systems, along with compulsory road safety education.
Rear-facing car seats
For a number of years, groups have been campaigning for rear-facing car seats to be used for children up to the age of 4 years (as is the case in Sweden). Because of the disproportionate weight of a toddler’s head compared to their neck, in a frontal-impact collision, a toddler’s neck is vulnerable to an enormous force. In a worst-case scenario, the neck will stretch so much that the spine snaps, resulting in instant death.
In a rear-facing car seat, the child is flung into the back of the seat and the force of impact is distributed along the whole back of the seat. The neck, spine and internal organs are not subjected to the stress of the force and are therefore protected.
Studies show it is five times safer to keep a child rear facing until the age of four (or 55llb).
The number of children being injured in road accidents is thankfully decreasing, in fact the those seriously injured last year was the lowest ever reported, but work still needs to be done. A child injured in a road accident can face a lifetime of pain and disability.
Let’s work together to make our roads safer for children. To find out more about Road Safety Week, please go to http://www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk/.
Your personal injury compensation experts
At IBB, our personal injury team, led by Malcolm Underhill, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to make a compensation claim following a road accident. To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our contact form. Any discussions you have with us will be in the strictest of confidence.
 Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain 2015 – www.gov.uk