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Accident Statistics in Germany

May 2019


Notfallsituationen spielerisch üben
Children learn how to react in emergency situations with roleplays

As in almost all EU member states, the trend in traffc accidents involving children under the age of 15 is very positive in Germany the figures from the German Federal Statistical Office show a clear decrease in children fatally injured in road traffic after reaching a maximum in the year 1970. In 1970, 2,167 children were killed in traffic accidents, but in 2017 it was “only” 61, that is, 97 percent less. In 2017, the number of children killed was less than 100 for the seventh time in a row. But on average, a child under the age of 15 years was injured on the road every 18 minutes. Altogether, almost 29,260 children were injured, of which approximately 4,270 were seriously injured. For comparison: In 1970, approximately 72,500 children were injured or killed in road traffic, and the decline by 2017 is nearly 60 percent.

Looking more closely at the accident figures and taking into account the type of road use, it is noticeable that in 2017 children were most frequently injured as car occupants (37.5 percent) and as cyclists (33.7 percent), and only 22.3 percent as pedestrians. In nonbuilt- up areas, children are usually involved in accidents in cars, and in built-up areas as cyclists. Background: In non-built-up areas, fewer children move around on bicycles or by foot. Furthermore, child safety equipment in passenger cars is pushed to its limits due to the higher speeds on rural roads, for example. On the other hand, child safety equipment in passenger cars can realize its potential better in builtup areas.

But not only the means of transport is relevant to the risk of an accident, but also a variety of other factors, as accident analysis surveys show. Like the age of the child, for example. As pedestrians, especially 7- to 9-year-old boys are at risk; in the case of cyclists, it is the 10- to 15-year-old age group regardless of gender. Occupants of passenger cars have experienced a slight increase in accidents for both sexes at primary school age – a phenomenon associated with so-called “parent taxis”, which is discussed in greater detail in the chapter on the human factor in this report.

Basically boys are involved in accidents more than girls, both as pedestrians and as cyclists. This can be associated with a generally greater tendency on the part of boys to take risks. As already mentioned, there are higher accident rates among girls traveling in cars, especially among 14-yearolds. According to experts, one of the reasons for this is riding with novice male drivers.

Hyperactive and restless children are at particular risk of being involved in a traffic accident because they are less focused and less attentive than others. But extroverted children are also at greater risk because they play on the street with their peers more often than others. Spontaneous actions, such as suddenly crossing the road without paying attention to traffic, and suddenly emerging from behind objects obstructing the view, are the greatest sources of accidents involving children on foot. On the other hand, children on bicycles are involved in accidents more frequently due to incorrect use of the road or mistakes when turning, entering traffic and riding off, or not granting the right of way.

Three risk points can be identified with regard to the time of day: the way to school in the morning and the way back at midday, as well as in the afternoon, when the roads are used for playing, recreation, and socializing. According to the factors based on the time of day, greater numbers of accidents occur during weekdays. Fridays have the greatest incidence of accidents, which can readily be explained by the fact that children receive less homework on the last day of the week and also that commuter traffic starts earlier, in addition to the weekend traffic.

As far as the seasons are concerned, there are two different phenomena. In autumn and winter, accidents are more frequent in the morning on the way to school. The cause is considered to be poorer visibility of the children, who are often difficult to detect or are seen too late in the dark by other road users because they are wearing dark clothing without reflectors. In spring and summer, on the other hand, the risk of children being involved in an accident is greater in the afternoon when they are playing outdoors.

The greatest risk of accident exists for children in built-up areas on roads with speed limits of 50 or 60 km/h. Speed restrictions in towns, especially in densely populated areas, significantly reduce the likelihood of an accident. Incidentally, approximately half of all accidents involving children are caused by somebody else. The main causes of accidents are redlight violations by drivers and a lack of attention to pedestrians and cyclists during turns, or speeding violations. The countermeasures that can be taken are indicated in the chapters on the human factor, vehicle technology, and infrastructure.

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