Child road safety: statistics, facts, proposals
The public forum on Road Traffic Management and Safety in the Russian Federation opened in Moscow on 3-rd December. Discussion centred on a draft public report assessing road traffic management and safety in the Russian Federation’s constituent entities.
The NGO Road Safety Russia produced the fourth section of the report, “Child Safety on Russia’s Roads”, and also organised the session “A Safe Road for the Next Generation”. The president of Road Safety Russia, Natalia Agre, moderated the session. Ms Agre spoke about the child safety work that Road Safety Russia has been carrying out for many years, together with the General Department of Road Traffic Safety of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Russian Association of Motor Insurers.
“Last year we used our public awareness campaign “Car Seats for Children” to address one of the major child safety issues, namely, child passenger safety,” said Ms Agre. It achieved some success in that the fine for failing to use a child restraint has been increased to 3000 roubles. However, the work we are doing today will be worthless unless the whole system for educating children and parents is improved and there is proper instruction for parents who transport their children by car.”
Vladimir Kuzin, deputy head of the Main Directorate for Road Safety of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, stressed that the issue of child safety affects absolutely everyone. “Sooner or later, almost everyone becomes a parent, and protecting their child becomes their primary concern,” he said. “Everyone feels distressed when there is a road traffic crash involving a child, even road users who were not directly involved. The last ten months has seen a 10.5% fall in accidents involving children. But we are very concerned about the situation with child pedestrians. We need direct work with children and their parents, and also work in schools, using a clearly defined programme and under adult supervision.”
Vadim Zelenev from the Russian Health Ministry’s Department of Obstetrics and Child Medical Care (deputy head of the department for female reproductive health and effective obstetric and gynaecological care) agreed with Natalia Agre and Road Safety Russia’s initiative whereby educational work should be carried out right from the birth of a child, with instruction given to new parents in maternity hospitals. He also spoke about the Health Ministry’s work in this area. “We understand the need to provide new parents with information on this issue. As before, parents often take their child home from the maternity hospital wrapped up in a baby sleeping bag, rather than in a car seat. It is vitally important to secure a child in a vehicle using a child restraint or a standard seat belt. They should not be carried in the arms of an adult passenger (a parent). Doing so is considered extremely dangerous because in the event of sharp braking (an impact) at 50 kilometres per hour the weight of the passenger (the child) increases about thirty times.”
Roman Rubanovich, head of the Avtodeti.ru project, spoke about the good quality and poor quality child restraints available on the market. He stressed the dangers of using uncertified equipment. “So-called seat belt adapters not only fail to provide children with a minimum level of protection, but can even cause serious injuries!” he said. “It is impossible to check that the materials from which the belt adapter and its fastenings are made could withstand even a minor impact. Moreover, as they pull down the diagonal strap of the belt, seat belt adapters raise the lap belt up to the level of the abdomen, which is absolutely not allowed!”
Alexei Tatarinov, a passive safety researcher at the motor vehicle safety division of the Automobile and Automotive Engine Scientific Research Institute (NAMI), reported on the results of child restraint testing carried out by NAMI. Thirty-one of the thirty-nine restraints tested did not comply with technical regulations, and some of the restraints were actually dangerous for children.
BMW Group Russia’s Corporate Communications Director, Vasily Melnikov, shared the company’s experience of working on child road safety. “For BMW it is not just the active and passive safety of our cars and motorcycles that matters, but also the safety of road users. The Junior Campus is one such project. We are pleased that this long-term, non-commercial initiative has now been launched in Russia as well. The campus is completely unbranded, but we see it as a fundamental investment in a road safety culture. It is an approach that any responsible business should be taking.”
Four main sessions were held during the forum, covering the different topics examined in the public report: public oversight as a means of increasing road safety; road traffic management; development of systems for the automatic detection of road traffic offences and child road safety. Approximately 300 people attended the forum, with most of the Russian Federation’s constituent members represented.