Greater Safety for Children on the Roads
Editorial Road Safety Report 2019
Berkeley, Rouen, Bristol, Trier, Vicenza, Darwin – all of these cities are united in one statistic: They all have around 110,000 inhabitants. But what does this fact have to do with a road safety report? The answer is simple: A city of this size would become devoid of people in the space of one year if it were inhabited exclusively by children under the age of 15. According to data published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, almost 112,000 road users in this age group lost their lives in 2017. Relating this tragic fact to the size of a city clearly illustrates just how shattering it is. This is why we took the conscious decision to make children under the age of 15 the focus of this year’s DEKRA Road Safety Report.
If we consider that “only” 593 children under the age of 15 lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2017 in the EU, and 1,233 in 2016 in the USA (figures for 2017 have not yet been published), we can make a guess as to which parts of the world this problem is most serious in: mainly Africa and Asia. According to the IHME, nearly 85 percent of children under the age of 15 killed in traffic accidents come from low and middle-income countries. Nevertheless, the more long-term trend is positive: IHME data shows that 223,500 lives were lost among road users in the under-15 age group in 1990 – around twice as many as in 2017. But that is by no means a reason for complacency. After all, every child killed on the roads is one child too many.
With that in mind, the preliminary accident figures for Germany for 2018 are downright alarming. According to estimates by the German Federal Statistical Office, 79 children under the age of 15 lost their lives in traffic accidents on German roads last year. This equates to an increase of no less than 30 percent compared to the 61 deaths recorded in this age group the year before. We will need to look very closely at what caused such a dramatic rise.
Of course, this age group and the 15 to 18-year-olds age group still make up the smallest portion of all 3,270 (preliminary figure) of the traffic-related deaths recorded in Germany in 2018. Nevertheless, this was the largest percentage increase in any age group in 2018. By way of comparison, France’s preliminary figures on deaths among children and young people aged 17 or under dropped almost 7.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the Observatoire national interministériel de sécurité routière.
There are many reasons for the deaths of over 300 children worldwide under the age of 15 who lose their lives on the roads every day. A lack of experience, misjudgment of risks and a failure to pay attention on the part of the children play just as large a role here as a failure to pay the proper attention, excessive speeds and distraction on the part of other road users, to name just a few examples. This Report will look at what measures can be taken in terms of the human factor, vehicle technology and infrastructure in order to achieve a lasting improvement in road safety of under-15-year-olds. In addition to this, as ever, it also aims to provide inspiration and advice – for politicians, traffic experts, manufacturers, and associations, and indeed for all road users. The special children’s supplement enclosed with the Report underlines just how important road safety is to us at DEKRA – especially that of our youngest road users.