The child accident rate has gone down in the last few decades. The advances in child restraint systems have been a decisive contributing factor in this decline. Active and passive safety measures in cars and an increased awareness by drivers and passengers are some of the reasons we can posit in order to understand this downward trend in accident rates in Spain overall.
Nevertheless, we have seen a small increase in the accident rate figures in the last two years, which is very concerning and demonstrates that there is still much to be done. The reasons, once again, are varied and difficult to determine, given that there are many factors which affect accidents and their consequences, but there is no doubt that we must continue to spread awareness and knowledge, in order to continue seeing these figures decrease.
A decade of progress in children's road accident rates
Despite what we have discussed, and in spite of the figures showing that the number of fatalities between 0 and 14 years has increased, if we take a look back, there is all the more reason to assume that we are nevertheless on the right track.
The data presented in the Department of Traffic's report entitled "The main Road Accident Rate figures, Spain 2017” are clear. In 2017, 35 children under 14 years old died in road accidents, 7 more than in 2016. Despite these figures, the age range between 0 and 14 years old had a rate of 5 deaths per million inhabitants, significantly lower than the 38 per million inhabitants recorded in the 35 to 44 year age group. In the section covering injured persons, there were 346 minors hospitalized with their injuries, and 6611 injured but not hospitalized. The figures for those injured in 2016 were 385 hospitalized with injuries and 6925 with minor injuries.
We need to break down these numbers to understand the reasons for this increase in the number of deaths, and why, conversely, the number of injured persons decreased. The vast majority of minors who died were involved in accidents on intercity roads, 22 of the 34, while the remaining 13 died in incidents in urban areas. In terms of those hospitalized with their injuries, 134 were injured on intercity roads against 212 in an urban setting: those injured but not hospitalized totaled 2542 on intercity roads compared with 4069 on city roads.
Can any conclusions be drawn from this data? In view of the numbers, it appears that incidents on urban roads are generally crashes or incidents on vehicles, such as bicycles or rear-end collisions (when traveling by car). These are the most typical incidents in cities.
On intercity roads, above all on conventional highways, the speeds involved are much higher and the consequences of the accidents are far worse, as demonstrated by the figures on fatalities. However, in terms of the data on injured persons, the fact that child restraint systems offer so much protection is primarily the reason that the age group between 0 to 14 years old has a lower accident rate than any other age group.