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Road safety for children: challenges and achievements in order to reach 'Goal Zero'

Road safety for children: challenges and achievements in order to get to 'Goal Zero'

Did you know that 186,300 children die in road traffic accidents worldwide annually? This means that more than 500 children lose their lives on the roads each day. What is being done worldwide to improve children's road safety? What is the European Union doing to reduce the number of fatalities and those who are injured? Where is Spain positioned in this ongoing battle?

The General Assembly of the United Nations declared the 2011-2020 period as the ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety’ with the objective of stabilising and reducing the number of fatalities in traffic accidents worldwide by increasing activities nationally, regionally and across the world

Of course, using child restraint systems is one of the basic tenets of the World Plan for the Decade. In terms of the protection of users, it sets out the importance of "establishing and monitoring compliance with laws and the rules and regulations based on evidence regarding the use of seat belts and child restraint systems for children, with a view to reducing injuries due to accidents”. The Plan also focuses on the importance of monitoring a series of indicators. On the one hand, the number of countries that have legislation on child restraint systems for children; and, on the other, the number of countries that have national data on the rates of child restraint system use (as something optional).

As a result of these proposals, the ‘Report on the global situation of road safety in 2013’ found that only 96 countries have laws which require compulsory use of child car seats. Furthermore, monitoring compliance with these laws on CRS use continues to be at a low level in the majority of countries. Only 9% of high income countries are considered to be monitoring the situation well enough, that is, in 17 countries. Furthermore, the report entitled ‘Ten strategies on how to keep children safe on the roads’, from 2015, shows that 186,300 children continue losing their lives in road traffic accidents worldwide.

The European Union's greatest challenge

With regard to the European Union, the strategic goal is to reduce the number of fatalities on the roads by half between 2010 and 2020. In Europealone, every year more than 700 children under the age of 15 lose their lives in traffic accidents and 100,000 are injured.

The data compiled by the European Commission shows that 26,000 people lost their lives on the roads in the EU in 2015. This is 5,500 less than in 2010, which shows that the numbers are going down but not at the desired pace.

Spain, close to achieving its 2020 goal

Spain is an example to follow in the European Union with regard to improving road safety. Although there has been a slight spike in numbers, the ‘2011-2020 Road Safety Strategy’, approved by the Council of Ministers in 2011 has achieved many of its 13 goals.

One of its most important objectives is to ensure that not one single child under the age of 12 dies on the roads due to failure to use a child restraint system. The country started 2009 with 12 deaths for this reason and in 2015 there were 5 child fatalities who did not use a CRS and 3 children in 2016 who were not using one.

Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go to reach ‘Goal Zero’. In 2016, a total of 28 children died in traffic accidents, 385 were hospitalized with their injuries and 6925 were injured but did not require hospitalization.

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