Road Safety

Road Safety Is No Accident

Drastic measures are required to overcome the trend of increased road accidents, says the United Nation's Children Fund at a function in Hanoi to promote World Health Day today. The event will be celebrated on 7 April and the theme for this year is Road Safety Is No Accident.

During the last ten years, the number of road accidents has increased four fold. According to Viet Nam Multi-centre Injury Survey in 2001, 4,100 children died from traffic accidents - 11 children a day. Boys are twice as likely to die as girls. In the same year, 290,000 children were injured or 794 a day. Road accidents are the leading cause of death of children 15 years and older.

Road accidents have a devastating impact on Vietnamese children, says Ms Isabelle Bardem, Chief of UNICEF's Childhood Injury Prevention Programme. There are not only the high number of deaths and injuries which often result in severe disabilities but also the thousands of children indirectly affected by their mother or father dying or being injured in traffic accidents.

The majority of young children 0-9 years, who die on the road, die as pedestrians. Most of the deaths of 10-14 years old children occur when driving a bicycle, while all deaths of adolescents aged 15-19 occur on a motorcycle.

Several factors explain the high incidence of road traffic injuries among children and the general population:

- Limited awareness of road safety and its high death toll in Vietnam

- Limited knowledge of traffic rules

- Limited knowledge about safe driving behaviour

- Fatalistic view about traffic accidents. Many people do not understand that these injuries are preventable.

- Unsafe traffic environment and poor road infrastructure. For example, traffic warning signs are rare and no safe areas for pedestrians.

- Use of motorcycle helmets is extremely low in spite of good quality, locally produced helmets.

- Poor enforcement of traffic rules.

Since 2001, UNICEF has been supporting the Government of Vietnam to reduce the number of child deaths due to injuries with main focus on traffic injury as it is the second leading cause of death among children one year of age and above.

At the national level, UNICEF together with the Ministry of Health, the Committee for Population, Family and Children, and the National Traffic Safety Committee are raising awareness on injury prevention and road safety. Posters and leaflets on road safety and helmet use have been distributed widely during the recent 22nd SEA Games.

UNICEF is advocating the understanding and enforcement of traffic rules. It is also strongly promoting helmet use, especially helmets for children, and safe driving behaviour by young people. The common and high risk practice of motorcycle weaving and racing is the source of many traffic accidents.

The following actions aimed at reducing road traffic injury have been planned in 6 provinces - Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Can Tho and Dong Thap:

- Install speed bumps, traffic lights, zebra crossings in areas where there are lots of children.

- Implement an in-school injury prevention curriculum with emphasis on information about being a pedestrian, bicycle or motorcycle rider.

- Organize children's competitions on road safety.

- Assist local people to implement different mass media activities adapting specific local conditions.

- Train community communicators to visit households and give advice on injury prevention including road traffic injuries.

- Assist the commune to provide child safe playgrounds where children can play safely away from the traffic.

- Organize workshop for commune leaders on safety law enforcement including traffic safety. For more information, see electric motor scooters.

Author Notes:

Alex Mazatti contributes and publishes news editorial to  A buyers guide to all types of motorcycle helmets plus shields, goggles, custom and wired radio helmets.

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