What Parents and Caregivers Should Know about Protecting Children while Traveling
Since a child is born, their safety, happiness and health are the key concerns of parents and caregivers. The first laugh and the first words sound like beautiful music to the parents’ ears; while the first fall and the first cry cause parents’ anxiety.
As children grow up, their space of activity is gradually expanding, thus increasing their possibility of being hurt. Injury is one of the main reasons for child mortality in the world; and among them, road safety injuries deserve special attention.
All over the world, road traffic injuries are one of the four main causes of death for children under 18 years old: taking away near 186,300 children’s lives each year, especially child pedestrians and child occupants in motor vehicles, who can sustain severe injuries:
Child pedestrians: due to the limitations of children’s body, cognition and social development, they are more vulnerable to injury compared with adults because of not being seen.
Child occupants of motor vehicles: due to the underdevelopment of body and weight, children cannot be as effectively protected by seatbelts alone in the vehicle, which are designed for adults.
“Seeing” and “being seen” are two components of improving child pedestrian safety. Because children are shorter than adults, it is less likely for them to be seen by drivers and easier to suffer from injury.
In addition, children’s range of vision is limited by their height, thus they cannot see the road conditions clearly; besides, their cognition and growth make it difficult for them to tell the direction, distance and speed of cars, thus resulting in possible crashes.
As a child’s guardian, we should pay attention to children’s road behaviors at all times: such as holding their hands tightly when crossing the roads and teaching them about the traffic lights. Furthermore, we should have children wear the clothes made of reflective materials, so as to increase their visibility.
When children can see and can be seen at all times, they are safer.
Data shows that the appropriate use of child restraints could reduce infant and child mortality in traffic crashes by 70% and up to 80%, respectively.
Seatbelts are designed based on the height and body of adults, thus not suitable for children. Child restraints that are designed for the height, weight and age of infants and children at different age groups, can limit physical impact thereby reducing the potential harm in case of crash to a child’s head, neck and waist; child restraints can also prevent occupants from being thrown from the vehicle due to impact force, or suffering from serious injury or even death.
Today is December 2nd, National Road Safety Day. This year’s theme is “details vital to life, travel safely and considerately”. Road safety cannot be ensured by only one department or one agency; it is closely linked to everyone. Attention to details could prevent a crash; and a careless mistake could cause an irretrievable tragedy.
World Health Organization invites every road user to consider how we can change our own behavior to improve road safety for ourselves and others.
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