More than 6,000 children aged up to 14 died between 2011 and 2020 in road collisions in the European Union, reveals a new report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
Roads around childcare facilities and in urban areas with lots of cyclists and pedestrians should be designed for 30 km/h (20mph) and low volume traffic, says the report. The default speed limit on these roads should be 30km/h even where these design criteria are not yet achieved and ETSC is calling on the EU to make this a formal recommendation.
ETSC is calling for safe cycling and walking routes to schools. It notes that just seven countries in Europe reported set compulsory lower speed limits around schools.
Despite major advances in car safety in recent years, almost half of child road deaths are of children travelling in cars, the study reveals. “Only limited data is available on the correct use of child seats in cars across the EU, but studies have shown that incorrect usage remains a significant problem.”
The study also found vast differences in the safety of children between countries. The child road mortality rate in Romania is ten times higher than in Norway, Cyprus and Sweden. Where child road mortality is relatively low, road mortality for the rest of the population also tends to be relatively low. “Where this is not the case, it could be partly because children in those countries tend to be driven to school and other activities rather than being allowed to travel there alone by bike or on foot.”
Antonio Avenoso, executive director of ETSC, said, “While zero child road deaths most years is becoming a reality in some parts of Europe, there is a long way to go. Many of the safety gains of recent years have come through safer cars but keeping children safe by enclosing them in metal cages is a pyrrhic victory. If we want healthy, active children to grow up as healthy active adults, we need to think differently.”
He added: “Making cities safe for children starts with simple things such as lower speeds and school streets. But if we are serious about reducing the hundreds of deaths of children that tragically occur every year, we also need to redesign our urban spaces to keep children separate from fast-moving vehicles and give them space to play and move around.”
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