A new report from the World Health Organization recommends ten road traffic injury prevention strategies for protecting children. The report, ‘Ten Strategies for Keeping Children Safe on the Road’ is published today in advance of the 3rd UN Global Road Safety Week on May 4-11 and contributes towards the #SaveKidsLives campaign.
Every four minutes a child is prematurely lost on the roads of this world. Many more are injured, often severely. These traumatic events cause immeasurable suffering and grief, and at times economic hardship for families and friends. In addition, they cost societies precious resources, diverting these from other pressing health and development challenges.
For countries in a phase of rapid motorization – many of them middle-income countries – roads are often built without due consideration for the communities they pass through. Historically, this was also the case in high-income countries. A shift in mind set is desperately needed to ensure that roads everywhere serve the needs of and are safe for all who use them, including children, but also other vulnerable groups such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Such a change is imperative for ongoing efforts to promote healthy lifestyles. The walking, cycling and other physical activity that would do much to curb overweight and obesity in children will inevitably bring them into contact with the road. It is only if those roads are made safe that children will be inclined to use them and their parents and other caregivers will allow them to do so.
Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO: ˝The future of a country is its young people. We cannot afford to lose our children to road traffic crashesˮ
No single measure adequately addresses the vast range of risks to children on the road, however, there are steps that each family, community, and country can take to improve road safety for children. In those countries which have demonstrated the greatest declines in road traffic death and injury, strong laws and stringent enforcement of those laws, and enhancements in the safety of roads and vehicles have proven to make a difference. The United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 offers a broad framework for taking these and other actions to keep children safe on the road.