Steep rise in child road deaths
Published 27/08/2014 | 14:16
The number of children killed on Ireland's roads has already more than doubled this year, stark new figures reveal.
Road chiefs have voiced their worries about the sharp buck in the trend over recent years for less child deaths as a result of road accidents.
Already this year, 13 children - aged under 14 years - have died in road collisions. Last year, six children lost their lives on the roads.
Six of the children who died this year were pedestrians, six were car passengers and one was a quad bike user.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the surge was "incredibly worrying" after many years of decreases in child road deaths.
"Attitudes to road safety are formed at a young age and we would urge parents and teachers to continue to prioritise teaching our youngest and most vulnerable road-users how to stay safe on the roads," he said.
"As parents and educators, we have a responsibility to teach our children how to be safe when walking, cycling, getting the bus or being driven to school.
"We would urge parents and guardians to consider bicycle helmets, bike lights and hi-vis vests or jackets when preparing their 'back to school' shopping lists to ensure their children are safe on the roads when travelling to and from school."
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has urged parents, guardians and teachers to make sure children are "streetwise" about road safety as they return to school after the summer break.
It is handing out 85,500 high visibility vests to every child starting school this year.
They are part of Back To School road safety packs being sent to primary schools throughout the country over the coming months.
Moyagh Murdock, RSA chief executive, said parents and guardians need to make sure road safety is a top priority on their child's back to school checklist.
"This year, with the rise in deaths of children on our roads, we would ask parents and guardians to more than ever keep road safety top of mind," she said.
"Children are the most vulnerable of our road-users so it is really important that they are streetwise about road safety."
Despite the rise in child deaths this year, there has been an overall 89% drop in the number of children killed on Irish roads between 1997 and 2012.
One in three was not wearing a seatbelt or a child restraint. Some 44% were pedestrians and 42% were travelling in a car at the time.
Boys are more likely than girls to be killed on the roads, the figures show.