More Research Needed To Prevent Child Road Deaths
by Becky Harrison |
posted 25 March 2021
The World Health Organization estimates that 140,000 children die in road traffic crashes every year. Globally, a significant share of children’s accidental deaths occur while they are passengers in a car.
A doctoral thesis by Ida Maasalo has investigated the factors underlying such car crashes. Maasalo investigated the topic at the University of Helsinki’s Traffic Research Unit, utilising statistics on fatal traffic accidents in Finland and the United States. Currently she works as a planner at the Finnish Road Safety Council.
As motorisation increases in middle-and-high-income countries, a significant proportion of children’s traffic-related deaths have occurred to child passengers travelling in vehicles. Cognitive scientist Ida Massalo has advised that in support of effective measures, investment in research is essential to better understand this emerging issue.
Globally, men cause the majority of fatal car crashes. Risk-taking behaviour, such as intoxication and speeding are often the cause of these accidents, However, according to Maasalo, when looking at fatal crashes involving small children as passengers, the driver is more than twice as often a woman than a man.
Maasalo believes the importance of attentiveness in traffic should be emphasised to drivers transporting children, in addition to which they should be made more aware of the effect of fatigue on driving ability.
The study showed that the risk of causing a crash for drivers with children as passengers was lower when another adult was in the vehicle. As a probable explanation, Maasalo offers the fact that the other adult can assist in taking care of the children. Based on the findings, it was more common for women than men to drive alone with children.
Moreover, the study demonstrated that, in the case of inexperienced drivers, the risk of serious crashes was also heightened by the fact that they more often drove older vehicles and did not use appropriate safety equipment.