Children in Poor Nations At-Risk for Road Fatalities

The United Nations recently promoted a “Global Road Safety Week” between May 4 and May 10. While road safety appears to be a universal concern, it is not as well-known that poorer countries experience more fatalities than their well-off counterparts.

Around the world, more than 500 children die in traffic accidents each day and tens of thousands are injured with lifelong disabilities. This solidifies traffic accidents as “a leading cause of death for children around the world,” says Kate Carr, CEO of the nonprofit organization “Safe Kids Worldwide.”

“Safe Kids is supporting a campaign called ‘Save Kids Lives,’ and that’s the official campaign for the third U.N. Global Safety Week,” says Carr. “The campaign is calling on action from policy makers to improve laws and improve roads and improve vehicles so that we can keep kids safer.”

Carr and the U.N. believe that many deaths can be prevented if different countries introduced safety laws. “We know that 95 percent of the global fatalities occur among children in low and middle income countries,” says Carr. “Part of the reason for that is a lack of the laws that we here in the United States might take for granted concerning speeding; drinking and driving; the use of car seats or even seat belts along with road infrastructure and the design of vehicles that are on the highway, including motorcycles and a lack of helmet laws.”

As of now, Africa is the continent with the most documented road fatalities, with Europe having the least amount of fatalities. These preventable deaths have become such an epidemic that a document called, “The U.N.’s Child Declaration,” was introduced with the intention of helping to protect the rights  and lives of children. Currently, Carr and others are working on getting signatures in support of this document so that it catches the attention of policy-makers.

“We all have a stake in improving road safety no matter where we live but most particularly in low and middle income countries,” says Carr. If preventative safety measures are implemented in the most impoverished of countries, the leading cause of death of kids between the ages of 15 and 19 will no longer be road crashes.

– Melissa Binns

Sources: UNICEF, Voice of America
Photo: BBC News