Moscow Region Road Traffic Safety Department announces unique study into child car safety

16 April 2014

The Moscow region has been selected for an extensive study into the causes of child injuries in car accidents. The region was chosen not on its merits as such, but because all possible accident factors can be seen in this location.

Let us start by looking at the study itself. NGO Road Safety Russia and the Russian Health Ministry’s chief paediatric surgeon, Vladimir Rozinov, initiated the project. They proposed to the General Department of Road Traffic Safety that a study be conducted to determine in which kinds of accidents and conditions children are injured most often and which passive safety devices are the most reliable.

According to the road traffic regulations, when transporting a child it is essential to use a child car seat or another device that safely secures the child. However, experience shows that using devices other than car seats often does more harm than good. Take, for example, the popular seat belt adjusters. Although these devices lower the shoulder belt so that it does not lie across the neck, they raise up the lap belt. Consequently, in an accident the child will either fly right out of their “restraint” or sustain severe injuries due to the unnatural position of the belt.

The road accident report forms completed by traffic police at accident scenes have so far not been used to record whether a child involved in an accident had been secured, whether they were in a child seat, or whether some other passive safety device was used. Nor do the statistics record the nature of the injuries sustained by children. It is therefore impossible to establish a clear picture of an accident. It was specifically to study these factors that it was decided to conduct an experiment in the Moscow region. At the scene of a road traffic accident involving a child, traffic police will record all the details: was the child in a car seat, was the seat secured with a seatbelt or an ISOFIX system, and what brand of car seat was used.

For their part, the emergency medical services attending these accidents will pass on information on the injuries sustained by the child. Moreover, it has been agreed that children injured in road traffic accidents will be taken to G.N. Speransky Paediatric Municipal Clinical Hospital No. 9. All the information from the hospital about the severity of injuries will be submitted to Road Safety Russia.

As the president of Road Safety Russia, Natalia Agre, told the newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta, the most complex task is to gather all this data. No one before has undertaken to track the whole history of an accident. The General Department of Road Traffic Safety only has information about the number of road accident victims. No one as yet has collated information about the severity of the injuries sustained and the causes of these injuries. Therefore, the main challenge is to establish information exchange.

Turning now to why the Moscow region was chosen as the location for this experiment. This territory has all the different types of road: federal roads, high-speed highways, local and rural roads. Therefore, however cynical it might sound, there is a wide range of road accidents in the region, encompassing all the various scenarios. 

The infrastructure in both Moscow and the Moscow region is such that full information can be provided rapidly. However, the consequences of accidents involving children in Moscow are not so serious, because vehicles travel at slower speeds in the city.

There is only one way to determine which child restraints offer children the maximum protection. Not all car seats undergo crash testing during certification. Furthermore, crash tests often do not simulate all the accident scenarios: car seats are generally only tested for frontal impact. But there are also side-impact and rear-impact collisions, and accidents involving a combination of impacts. In a side-impact collision, for example, if a child is sitting in a booster seat, there is a high chance their neck will be broken. A reliable car seat, with a head restraint and side support, would protect them from this.

This is the first comprehensive study of child car safety (car seats) in Russia. 



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