A total of 2,542 children under the age of 14 were victims of traffic accidents in 2014, according to the 2014 Annual from the National Road Safety Authority in Portugal. We would be closer to the ‘Zero Victims Target’ if all children rode in vehicles under the safest possible conditions, in properly fitted child restraint systems. Having the safest CRS is not enough. The system also needs to be fitted properly in the vehicle.
According to the 2014 Annual, of the total of 2,542 road traffic victims under 14 years of age (39 fewer than in 2013), 721 were pedestrians and 1,525 were in light vehicles. It is worth pointing out that 2 children lost their lives in road traffic accidents for every one million inhabitants, 41 were injured as pedestrians and 40 were seriously injured as passengers in light vehicles. As for those suffering minor injuries, 680 were pedestrians under the age of 14 and 1,484 were riding in light vehicles. Furthermore, as passengers, as well as the 2 children under 14 killed, 44 were severely injured and 1,594 suffered minor injuries.
Well aware than child restraint systems are effective means of preventing injury, many organizations around the world offer free workshops to teach vital skills such as how to choose the right CRS for a child's size and weight, and how to fit the seat properly in a vehicle.
On this occasion we discuss one such initiative in Portugal. There, the Associação para Promoção da Segurança Infantil APSI (Child Road Safety Promotion Association) runs a workshop called ‘ABC of Safety’, sharing information on how best to ride with babies in vehicles. The courses are run on a regular basis. The latest took place on June 25 at the Hospital Lusíadas in Lisbon.
The fact is, choosing the best seat for child is no easy task. In ‘Child Road Safety’ we offer tips on how to choose ‘The safest seat’, bearing in mind i-Size regulations, isofix systems, the height and weight of the child, and so on.
The workshop taught by the APSI is backed by DOREL, the company that owns the Bebé Confort brand. These workshops are aimed at families that are expecting a child and parents with children up to 3 years of age. The workshops teach what to look for when choosing a child seat and how to securely fit them in vehicles.
APSI also runs ‘Child safety clinics’ in Cascais. This initiative is backed by the Cascais Council, with clinics run by the sea, in green spaces and at shopping malls. The aim is to provide information to families and children on road safety and water safety. A number of activities are organized. The next are scheduled to take place on July 2 starting at 3 p.m. in Mitchell Park (Wall), on July 19 as of 2 p.m. on Tamariz beach (Estoril) and on Palm Beach (Cascais) on July 26 starting at 2 p.m.
Under Portuguese law, children under 12 years of age must ride in vehicles equipped with seatbelts. However, any child under 135 cm in height must use certified child restraint systems suitable for their size and weight.
Children must also ride in the rear seat of the car. Exceptions include when a child is less than 3 years old, when they ride in the front of the car in rear-facing seats, in which case the airbag must be deactivated; and if the child is 3 years of age or older but the car is not fitted with seatbelts (children under 3 years of age are forbidden to ride in cars without seatbelts). Children with brain, metabolic, degenerative, congenital or other severe conditions may ride without a CRS if there are other seats or restraint systems suitable for their specific requirements and that have been prescribed by medical specialists.
The 'Child Road Safety' report is available in Portuguese, Segurança Rodoviária Infantil, featuring articles and information on how to travel safely and responsibly with children. We also have a section on children with special needs.