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Keeping Children Safe in Traffic


In many OECD countries, road-related crashes are the number one killer of children under the age of 15. Since the last OECD report on children’s transport safety was published in 1983, an estimated 100,000 children have perished in road-related crashes. Of course, this level of fatalities is not acceptable.

Considerable advances have been made by most countries, particularly since 1990. Many of the recommendations from earlier OECD work have been implemented with the support of Ministers for Transport in OECD and ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport) countries. In fact, the number of children killed per annum on the roads in OECD countries was halved between 1984 and 2000. Nevertheless, at current rates, one child out of every 2100 will die before their 15th birthday in a road-related incident, and a considerably higher number will suffer severe injuries or lifelong disabilities. Many such fatalities would be avoided if all OECD member countries adopted practices known to be effective in improving children’s road safety.

This latest version of Keeping Children Safe in Traffic draws on best practice and research results to show how child casualties can be reduced whilst at the same time encouraging children to develop into safe, active and independent road users. It focuses on the contribution education, training and publicity can make; measures related to the risks children face in the road environment; vehicle and bicycle standards; safety equipment and the importance of appropriate legislation. It outlines the progress that has been made in OECD countries in the last 20 years. It provides the latest statistics on children’s injuries, fatalities and trends in transport.

The report considers the relative levels of risks in OECD countries and the casualty reduction programmes and strategies that can improve children’s road safety. It identifies practices drawn from OECD member country experience that have proven to be most effective in improving children’s road safety. It also outlines possible further improvements based on research undertaken.

One of the report’s conclusions is that, currently, the best-performing countries have population-based road crash fatality rates for children that are less than half the OECD average and only a quarter of the rate in the worst-performing countries. Therefore, there is considerable potential for improving child road safety in most OECD countries. After examining the most effective strategies, based on the research undertaken, the report makes a series of policy-oriented recommendations for achieving such improvements in children’s road safety.

Keeping Children Safe in Traffic is particularly geared towards policy makers, transport planners, regulators and strategists as well as road safety professionals, motorist associations and researchers.

A survey of children’s road traffic safety in OECD countries was commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport and undertaken in 2002 and 2003 to complement and help with the preparation of this report from the OECD’s Child Traffic Safety Expert Group. Responses to the International Survey were therefore an important input to this report. Twenty-one of the 30 member countries responded, and data was supplemented where possible by internationally available data.

The main purpose of this report is to highlight successful programmes and strategies that could be adopted by OECD countries to improve children’s safety on the roads and to identify possible further improvements.

The executive summary of the report is available here . The full report is available for browsing and purchase on the OECD On-line Bookshop. The French edition will be published in late 2004.


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