Are we doing enough to reduce road accident rates worldwide? And what are we doing to lower the numbers of children losing their lives on the roads around the world? A recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that road accidents are one of the leading causes of death in children and young people, especially between the ages of 5 and 29.
This study reveals that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death in children and young people between 5 and 29 years old, followed by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and diarrhoeal diseases.
The WHO carries out this global study every two to three years. The last one was prepared in 2015 (take a look at the report's figures here) and they have found some improvements compared to the last study. For example, no less than 105 countries representing 5.3 million people currently have laws on seat belt usage and 33 countries that represent 652 million people have laws on child restraint systems that align with best practices.
The WHO believes it is crucial to have a national children's road safety law and for children to travel in child restraint systems until they are at least 10 years old or 135 cm tall and that this should be reflected in the legislation. It is also necessary for the laws to advocate for children to travel on the vehicle's rear seats and that there is a safety standard for these child car seats.
The WHO reveals that only 33 countries include these best practices in their legislation. However, 53 countries have a safety standard for their child restraint systems, 113 restrict the use of front seats for adults and 41 countries require children to use child car seats until they are 10 years old or 135 cm tall.
Since 2014, only 4 countries have amended their legislation in order to bring it in line with these best practices. However, it is striking that 85% of the countries who have incorporated these children's road safety recommendations into their legislation are high-income countries and only 15% are middle-income countries. In fact, no low-income countries contain these measures. The vast majority of these best practices can be found in European countries. It is also worth noting that only 22 countries rate their own legislation on children's road safety as 'good' and only 35 gather information on child car seat use among the general population.