During the last 20 years, Portugal has experienced a continual decrease in children's road traffic accident rates (minors from 0 to 14 years old). Nevertheless, the period between 2012 and 2016 saw road traffic accident victim numbers rise. In 2017, and in the absence of official data from the Autoridade Nacional de Segurança Rodoviaria (National Road Safety Authority) for December, it looks like the figures will continue to rise.
An overall decrease in children's and young people's road traffic accident rates in Portugal with regard to passenger, pedestrian and also bicycle and motorcycle driver fatalities is particularly significant, although accidents also leave people with different injuries. Therefore, road safety is a matter of public health, regardless of the age group being looked at.
Fatalities within 24 hours of the incident are calculated. Taking into account these figures, between 1998 and 2009, 140 people died a year, on average, in the three-year 1998-2000 period, compared with 21 fatalities in 2010 and 2011. The drop in numbers is a small but continual one, and therefore we can afford to be somewhat optimistic.
If we take a look at the number of people injured in road traffic accidents, the figures have also gone down. It has not occurred to such a degree as in the case of fatalities, but they highlight a very positive trend. In the three-year 1998-2000 period, an annual average of 8,775 persons were injured, while in the 2007-2009 period the average lowered to 4,990. In summary, during 2010 and 2011 there was a downward trend in the figures with an average of 4,488 people injured under the age of 17. This reduction in the numbers shows that there is a more moderate downward trend than in the case of fatalities. Further on we will address the cause of this apparent reduction.
Continuing with the topic of road traffic accident injuries, there is a statistic worth taking into account, namely the figures for fatalities within 30 days of the incident. For the under-17 age group, there were 56 fatalities recorded in 2010 and 2011 alone under the described conditions. For every fatality, another 214 were injured and this raises the number of persons affected to more than 9,000 in that period, including those with minor injuries, serious injuries and those that died. Passengers were the most affected group, with more than half being over 10 years old.
The reason for a progressive reduction in fatalities and those who are seriously injured is down to legislation requiring drivers to use child restraint systems. An uptake in the use of these types of seats (because it is compulsory after all) leads to a decisive improvement in safety for children and minors being transported.
2012 to 2016 statistics on child road traffic accident rates in Portugal
According to updated statistics on the Autoridade Nacional de Segurança Rodoviaria's website, children and young people's road traffic accident rates is growing year on year. The rates have gone from decreasing to rising, and since 2012 the number of accident victims continues to rise in all age ranges:
With regard to children under the age of 14, the progression is better. The statistics show that there has been a decrease which could become a trend in terms of number of fatalities, as well as in cases of those with both serious or minor injuries. We have summarized the figures in this chart, which shows fatalities within 30 days, the seriously injured and those with minor injuries from the 0 to 14 years old age range:
Here we can see the progression over the last few years:
This is mainly owing to a greater awareness in Portugal of the need to use child restraint systems. However, the rising accident rates in Portugal is of concern.