Translate page with Google

Story Publication logo January 23, 2019

Ten Strategies to Keep Children Safe on the Roads

The sign says, “No crossing. Deadly.” Walking in Metro Manila can be hazardous to one’s health: 57,877 pedestrians were injured or killed in the megacity from 2005 to 2015. That comes out to about 15 people a day. Image by Dinna Louise C. Dayao. Philippines, 2012.

Many Philippine roads are death traps. Why are they so deadly? And what can be done to make them...

Road sign. Image courtesy of pxhere.
Road sign. Image courtesy of pxhere.

Second part

Some vehicle safety measures can reduce risks for children more than adults. These measures include redesigning vehicle fronts to make them more "pedestrian friendly," equipping vehicles with cameras and audible alarms that can detect small objects missed by the rear-view mirror, and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems which can prevent collisions between motor vehicles and children who are walking or cycling.

AEB systems use lasers, radar, or video cameras to detect moving people in the path of the vehicle. When they detect a looming collision, the systems automatically apply the brakes.

"AEB can reduce impact speeds by as much as 15 kph so reducing the severity of injury" to people on foot, says the European Transport Safety Council.

People who drink and drive pose a major risk to children who walk, pedal bicycles, or ride motor vehicles. Ways to curb drink driving include enforcing drinking and driving laws through random breath testing, and enforcing blood alcohol limits of 0.05 grams per deciliter or less for all drivers and 0.02 grams per deciliter or less for young drivers.

Success story: A broad policy in Estonia cut the number of drink-driving deaths from 61 in 2006 to seven in 2016 — an 89% decrease. Such progress is the result of introducing in 2000 a blood alcohol limit of 0.02 grams per deciliter for all drivers.

Strict enforcement is key. Estonia has the highest drink driving enforcement levels in the European Union. The number of roadside alcohol breath tests went up from 105 in 2010 to 677 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2015.

Novice drivers are involved in many road crashes globally. Effective graduated driver licensing schemes, which incorporate restrictions for new drivers before full licensing is achieved, can save the lives of many children.

Such schemes include strategies like lowering blood alcohol levels for newbie drivers, and driving with a responsible adult for a designated period of time while learning to drive.

Success story: In Lithuania, an improved training system for new drivers was launched in 2010. Tougher requirements for driver training and examination and stricter controls on driving schools were also introduced.

Thanks to the upgraded system, "The proportion of novice drivers involved in fatal collisions dropped by 41 percent over the period 2012 to 2017," says Vidmantas Pumputis of Lithuania's Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Key strategies include training health care providers in the physiologic differences between children and adults, and on how to meet the distinct treatment needs of children, and equipping emergency vehicles with child-sized medical equipment and supplies.

Success story: Khon Kaen Hospital is in Thailand. In 2006, data showed that about 10,000 road traffic injury patients visited its emergency room each year, of whom 4,000 were admitted.

The hospital's managers created a multidisciplinary trauma care team to regularly review cases of road crash victims who had died in the hospital. The team assessed where care could have been better and identified simple corrective actions, such as targeted training for health care providers and monitoring protocols for severe cases.

These actions were then made part of hospital routines. The result was dramatic: Mortality rate among moderately and severely injured road crash victims was cut by almost half.

Parents and other caregivers can ensure that kids use helmets, car seats and seat belts and abide by the rules of the road for their own safety.

Combining these strategies can bring about significant results. Among the 32 countries covered in a 2018 report by the European Transport Safety Council, Norway has the lowest child road mortality rate. In 2016, two children were killed in road crashes, adding up to the 53 recorded deaths since 2006. Over the last decade, child road deaths have decreased by around 14% yearly.

Road safety expert Michael Sorensen cites the reasons behind this impressive achievement. He notes that parents and teachers look after children when they play or walk outdoors. The speed and traffic volume have been reduced in residential areas; rules on child restraints have been intensified, and their usage rates have increased, he says.

This story has been produced with the help of a grant from The Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), a hosted project of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). 


navy halftone illustration of a female doctor with her arms crossed


Health Inequities

Health Inequities

Support our work

Your support ensures great journalism and education on underreported and systemic global issues