Natalia Agre
President of the NGO “Road Safety Russia”

Who will save our children?

31 January 2013

Very often it’s hard to determine who is to be blamed for a road accident and who is innocent. Sometimes a pedestrian runs out to cross a carriageway in a wrong place or a driver exceeds speed limit or a passenger doesn’t fasten a seat belt. But among the road users there is a group of people who can’t be accused of anything. They do not bear any responsibility for themselves as yet: they do not decide what speed to drive at, whether to fasten or not, they know nothing about the traffic light signals. We mean child-passengers whose lives totally depend upon other people.

Mrs. Natalia Agre, president “Road Safety Russia” public organization.

The Road Traffic Safety Department at the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation has published the road accidents’ statistics for 2012. According to the report 514 child-passengers were lost in road crashes - a 5% decline as compared to 2011. Translating it from the terms of figures we get 27 saved child lives. Not few indeed!

If the downsizing of child-passengers’ death toll continues at the same pace the problem will be solved no earlier than in 20 years. And how many kids will be killed on roads for this period? It’s a sad rhetorical question. It’s up for the adults to prevent tragedies but drastic measures should be undertaken right away. Three things must be done to reach the set goal.

The first one is education and training. We repeat from year to year that each kid should be transported only in child restraints. Only a special car seat can save a child in case of an accident but not the mother’s hands or a seat belt or a soft toy. It’s necessary to inform young mothers and fathers about it everywhere including polyclinics, hospitals, maternity homes, young parents’ courses, day nurseries, kindergartens etc.

In this case any means are helpful: educative films, booklets, discussions, preventive measures. The child car seat designed to transport kids from their birth to the age of 12 will not only ensure children’s safety but will also inure them to comply with the road traffic rules. The person accustomed to law-abiding and safe behaviour from childhoodl will never put his own life or the lives of other people at risk neither on a road nor in everyday life.

The second thing – the penalty for non-use of a child seat should be toughened. The fine should be raised and leveled up to the average price of a child car seat – 5000 roubles. Carelessness and irresponsibility, especially pertaining to children, should be heavily punished. Such measure will undoubtedly influence the majority of motorists because the Road Traffic Safety Department repeatedly registers the upswing in road accidents’ statistics after toughening of punishment for traffic offences. For instance, after introducing a complete ban on blood-alcohol concentration for drivers (the corresponding Federal Law “On altering Article 19 of «Road Traffic Safety» Federal Law and invalidation recognition of particular statutes of the Russian Federation” came into force on August 6, 2010) the number of traffic offences related to drunk driving has declined significantly.

And finally the third urgent thing in saving child-passengers’ lives – child car seats should be affordable. It’s in our ability to create an on-line site for child seats interchange where the parents whose kids have already grown up can sell for a small fee or give free of charge the child seats to people who have children under 12.

In conclusion let me ask one more question, perhaps a rhetorical one: Are we ready to wait for “zero” road victims among child-passengers in the course of 20 years or should we strive to save our children straight away?

"Argumenti i fakti"



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