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Drop of more than one third in car-related child deaths and injuries – survey

FEWER children are being killed or injured as a result of road accidents, a study has revealed.

Research shows a drop of more than a third in car-related child deaths and injuries between two four-year periods recorded over the last 12 years.

The study, by Temple Street Children's Hospital and the Road Safety Authority, looked at collisions involving boys and girls under the age of 15 years reported to the Garda between 1996 and 2000 and between 2004 and 2008.

When the results were compared, it showed a 36pc decrease - from 5,928 during the first period to 3,659 in the second - in the number of children injured or killed on public roads.

Researchers said the most significant drop was in cycling injuries.

There was a 76pc decrease in the number of deaths involving children who were cycling at the time.

Injuries involving children cycling were also down 68pc.

In contrast to previous years, none of the child cycling deaths during the 12-year period involved children under the age of 10.

In only two confirmed cases were the children wearing helmets, and both of those suffered minor injuries.

Professor Alf Nicholson, consultant paediatrician at Temple Street, credited recent road safety measures for the drop-off in deaths and injuries.

"The findings are hugely positive and there is no doubt that policy changes and concerted publicity campaigns in the intervening period have had a significant impact," he said.

"It is vital that this safety message continues, however, with an emphasis on use of bicycle helmets and proper child restraints."

The study also found that the number of children killed while a car passenger fell by 38pc from 69 to 44.

Most of the children involved were travelling in the back seat of the car at the time.

But the researchers warned a large number of children continue to travel in the front car seat.

There were 1,232 children injured while walking along public roads between 2004 and 2008 - more than a third (34pc) of all road injuries during that period.

Of these, 32 were deaths, 129 were serious injuries and 1,071 were minor injuries, the study shows.

When the two time periods were compared, deaths of child pedestrians had fallen by 48pc and serious injuries had dropped by a half.