Original Post: Every day, 12 children suffer a traffic accident in Portugal, according to figures released this week by the Association for Child Safety (APSI), which highlights a reduction of almost half of these cases in recent years.
The numbers that involve children and road accidents “are frightening”: Between 1998 and 2011, a total of 1,020 children have died and almost 84,500 have been injured, APSI President Sandra Nascimento told Lusa News Agency.However, the statistics show a “significant” reduction in the number of children who are the victims of road accidents since 1998, the year when APSI began compiling the data available from the National Road Authority (ANR).
Between 1998 and 2000, more than 11 children died each month on the nation’s roads (an annual average of 140 children). Almost 10 years later, during the period between 2007 and 2009, the number of deaths fell to three per month (38 children per year). Currently the figures stand at less than two per month, according to the average for 2010 and 2011, which are around 21 child deaths per year.
These figures refer only to deaths registered during the first 24 hours after an accident, because they were the figures available when APSI first started collecting the data. Currently, the ANR keeps records of victims who die up to 30 days after a road accident. These show that between 2010 and 2011, a further 14 children died, aside from the 21 included in the APSI statistics.
Over the years there has also been a reduction in the number of people injured, “but not as significantly as the reduction in death rate,” said Sandra Nascimento, highlighting that between 1998 and 2000, the annual average was 8,775 children injured, whereas now it is 4,488 injuries.
“Portugal is one of the countries with the greatest reduction in the number of road accidents, but even so, during the past two years, 12 children have been involved in road accidents each day (taking deaths and injuries into account), which is worrying,” she said.
Among the 12 annual deaths, seven are passengers, four are pedestrians and two are drivers (normally of mopeds or bicycles). The largest incidence of injuries in minors is recorded among those aged between 15 and 17, and this age group also has the highest record of road accidents.
Despite the drop in mortality figures, Sandra Nascimento believes small changes in the law are still required to reduce the number of child deaths from road accidents, as well as the other top two killers; drowning and falls.
In order to reduce road deaths, “many years ago” APSI suggested a reduction in the maximum driving speed within residential areas and schools to 30 kilometres per hour.
Other suggested measures include tightening the laws for the construction of all swimming pools to include compulsory fencing, as well as a change in the laws for the construction of urban buildings to prevent falls from balconies and verandas.
A study on the use of car seats for children on motorways was also carried out by APSI this year, which showed “a total turn around in the use of car seats” since the report began. In 1996, fewer than 20 percent of children travelled in car seats, while now, only 15 percent of children travel without them.
APSI’s findings were released during a meeting held at the São Jorge Cinema in Lisbon this week, which celebrated the association’s 20 years, as well as the 20 years that have passed since the United Nations adopted the Convention for Children’s Rights.