Road safety legislation helps to improve the behavior of drivers, making it possible to reduce the number of traffic accidents and their negative outcomes. Nevertheless, there are many countries that still do not have a specific standard. Based on the ‘Report on world-wide status of road safety 2015’ of the World Health Organization (WHO), only 52 countries in the world have specific legislation governing child restraint systems.
In this report, the WHO discusses which countries have legislation related to the 5 principal risk factors for road safety: speed, driving under the influence of alcohol, motorcycle helmet use, seat belt use, and the use of child restraint systems. During the past three years, 17 countries (with a population of 409 million people) have made an effort to change their laws relative to one or more of these risk factors.
The proper installation of a child restraint system reduces the probability of death by about 90 percent for babies, and between 54 and 80 percent for small children. This is why it is so important to institute regulations that make the use of such systems mandatory while also recommending their use only in the rear seats (the safest place for children).
According to this study, 46 countries have laws that are in line with best practices in terms of child restraint systems, and 7 countries (with a population of 101 million) have passed new laws governing this area between 2011 and 2014.
In all, 84 countries have passed laws to prevent children from sitting in the front seats of a vehicle. Most of these laws prohibit children younger than about 10 or 12 years of age, or shorter than 135 to 150 cm, from riding in the front seats.
While some 96 countries have some sort of legislation governing child restraint systems, only 85 countries base their regulations on age, weight, or height. Deficient legislation, in most cases, is found in poor or developing countries.
In its report, the WHO has set out two criteria that it considers necessary in order to have satisfactory legislation:
- the existence of a law that takes into account age, weight, or height in determining which children may ride in the front seats.
- a national law covering the use of child restraint systems based on age, height, or weight.
Although it is important to have the right laws, enforcement is also vital, and this can be difficult even in the most prosperous countries. The cost of a child restraint system can be quite high in some countries and for many families, a situation that the World Health Organization finds unacceptable.
Regarding the application of the law, the report states that only 22 countries feel that the level of compliance with current law in their nations is “good“. Solving the problem of the accessibility and cost of CRSs is crucial for achieving compliance with regulations governing their use.
Although the laws are in place, there is still a lot to do to achieve full penetration. For example, in the United Kingdom, 75 percent of children between 1 and 4 years of age have an appropriate child restraint system. This figure drops to 41 percent for children 5 to 9 years of age.
What is being advocated, then, is the implementation of measures that promote the general use of CRSs, initiatives to facilitate access to such systems, and greater emphasis on proper installation.
The following map, taken from the study, indicates what laws are in place governing the use of CRSs, by country or region:
(Map from the ‘Report on the world-wide status of road safety 2015’ of the World Health Organization (WHO)
THE MOST POPULOUS COUNTRIES WITHOUT A CRS LAW
In this regard, the report points out that 10 of the world's most populous nations, accounting for no fewer than 4.2 billion people, have ‘weak laws‘. About 56 percent of the world's traffic deaths, in fact, occur in these very countries, and none of them have laws covering all five risk factors.
In fact, of the 10 countries with the highest population, only two have implemented best practices in their laws governing CRSs: Brazil and Russia. This is not the case with China, India, USA, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, or Japan.
Under ‘Child Road Safety‘ we have prepared an infogram showing how small children are required to be transported in the various countries of the European Union. Also available on our channel are the CRS regulations for various countries around the world.