A new report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), estimates that more than 6000 children up to the age of 14 were killed in road collisions in the EU over a nine-year period (between 2011 and 2020). This represents one in every 15 deaths.
The ETSC is calling for renewed action and targets to protect children in the EU following the stark figures in their latest report, which was published on 26 September 2022.
Around half of the children aged 0–13 represented by the statistics died while travelling in a car, a further one-third were killed whilst walking, and 11% died whilst cycling.
The report also highlights deaths on motorcycles, which for those above the age of 14 represents 20% of child road deaths. Whilst the recommended EU minimum age is 16, ETSC warns that 16 EU countries allow children to ride mopeds at 14 and 15 years old.
To improve road safety for children the report sets out around 40 recommendations for national and EU policy makers, including (but not limited to):
- Regular review of whether speed limits match the road function and design, and adapt road design if not when there is an opportunity to do so (e.g. when a road needs reconstruction).
- Encourage local authorities to adopt 30km/h zones in residential areas, on ways to schools and childcare facilities, around bus stops and in other areas used by many pedestrians and cyclists, as well as promote traffic calming measures.
- Reduce motor vehicle traffic around schools and childcare facilities.
- Implement safe pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure separated from motorised traffic to make walking and cycling to school, and more generally, safer.
- Make rear-facing child seats mandatory for as long as is practicable, preferably until the child is 4 years old.
- Increase affordability of child restraints by including them in the category of essential products (permitting a lower rate of VAT) as allowed by EU Directive 77/388/EEC.
- Promote the introduction of ‘safe routes to schools’ within local, regional and national transport plans.
- Within the framework of the upcoming revision of the Driving Licence Directive 2006/126, make theoretical and practical training, as well as a practical test, mandatory to obtain an AM driving licence.
The full report “Reducing child deaths on European roads” and executive summary, published as part of the ETSC Road Safety Performance Index programme, can be viewed via the ETSC website here.