Traffic accidents caused 37,000 injuries and 424 deaths in children aged 14 and under in Israel between 2000 and 2009, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Or Yarok road safety advocacy group.
Despite a dramatic decline in children’s deaths in recent years, Israel remains first among developed countries in child mortality as a percentage of total deaths from traffic related deaths, with children making up a total of 8 percent of all traffic fatalities, the report says.
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Seventy-seven percent of the children injured were hurt while they were passengers in vehicles, 22% as pedestrians and 3% while riding their bicycles, Or Yarok found, based on data collected by the National Road Safety Authority and the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Children made up a quarter of all pedestrians injured during the years and 23% of all vehicle passengers’ injuries.
While Israel saw a 68% drop in total children’s deaths in traffic accidents between 2000 and 2009, Or Yarok warns that the improvement should not lead to complacency.
In Japan, children make up only 2% of total traffic accident fatalities, the same statistic found in Germany, Sweden and Finland. In Poland, Spain and Denmark, the percentage is slightly higher and stands at 3%, while in a majority of the developed countries – including Britain, Norway, Holland, the US and Australia – the average is 4%. The country with the second highest percentage is Ireland with 7%, followed by New Zealand, with 6%.
“This grim reality becomes even more serious when we examine the developments of recent years and discover that there has been almost no change. Israel has consistently topped the list of countries with high children mortality rates over the last few years,” said Or Yarok CEO Shmuel Aboav.
“The obligation to protect our children lays on our shoulders. Our children’s safety rests on road safety education and instilling proper safety habits, but we mustn’t forget that we are dealing with children and must make sure that things like enforcement, infrastructure and education provide the protection that the children can’t ensure themselves,” he said.
The report concludes by offering several solutions that have been proven
to help decrease risks to children. Among the suggestions are reducing
and strictly enforcing speed limits around kindergartens, schools and
residential neighborhoods; developing new vehicle safety measures;
increasing enforcement on seat belt harnessing in the back seat;
enforcing helmet wearing while cycling; maintaining road safety
education programs in schools and improving on the scene medical
services for children.
“Implementing these measures will directly contribute to improving
children's safety in Israel. Policy makers and decision makers must pay
more attention and make sure that measures are taken for the sake of the
children,” Aboav said.
Since the beginning of this year, 2,184 children were hurt in traffic
accidents, and of them 41 were killed and 186 were severely injured,
according to the National Road Safety Authority.