Wednesday 22 November 2017

One-third of children killed in collisions had no safety belt

Roberta Connolly – who suffered brain damage when she was hit by a car at the age of 10 – with Clodagh Magee (5), Kady McKeown (6) and Bailey Wilson (5) at the launch of the Road Safety Association’s ‘Back to School’ campaign in Dublin yesterday. Pic Tom Burke
Roberta Connolly – who suffered brain damage when she was hit by a car at the age of 10 – with Clodagh Magee (5), Kady McKeown (6) and Bailey Wilson (5) at the launch of the Road Safety Association’s ‘Back to School’ campaign in Dublin yesterday. Pic Tom Burke
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

One in three children killed on the roads were not wearing a safety belt or appropriate restraint in the collision which cost them their lives.

Some 262 children and infants have died on the roads in the past 15 years, new research from the Road Safety Authority (RSA) shows, with the numbers killed so far this year more than double 2013's death toll.

Some 13 children have been killed in the first eight months of 2014, compared with six last year. It is the third year in a row that child fatality figures have risen.

RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said the evidence suggested that adults were becoming complacent about child safety, and that as many as 75pc of car seats were not correctly fitted.


"There is a big risk that parents and adults are becoming complacent about children in their car," she said.

"The evidence we have found also suggests three out of every four seats are incorrectly fitted. We also see parents taking chances with short trips. There's a lot of families left bereft this year. Previously, we saw a 90pc reduction in child fatalities but there has been an increase in the last three years.

"Some judges take a very dim view where children are not properly restrained, with some saying it's a child neglect issue. Parents must take every precaution they can to ensure they are safe, and other adults must also ensure that children in their care are properly looked after."

The figures come amid deep concern about the growing number of people dying on our roads.

So far this year, 125 have died - up three on 2013, which was the first annual increase in seven years.

The 'Child Casualties Report 1997-2012' also shows:

* Some 262 children were killed, and 1,115 seriously injured, in the 15-year period studied.

* Most (44pc) were pedestrians, followed by car passengers (37pc).

* Some 115 pedestrians, 96 car passengers and 34 cyclists are among the victims.

* Some 30pc of child victims were not wearing a seatbelt or restraint. This has dropped somewhat, but one in nine (11pc) dying in recent years were not protected.

* Most victims are boys (59pc), and one in four died between 4pm and 6pm. They are most likely to be killed between the warmer months of April and August.

Launching the RSA annual 'Back to School' campaign, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the increase in child fatalities was "incredibly worrying".

"One of the things I'm aware of from the success we have had in bringing down the number of people killed on the roads is the importance of awareness, education and emphasising that we all have a responsibility in arresting and dealing with the tragic loss of life," he said.

Some 85,500 high-vis vests will be distributed to every child starting school this year. All children should wear helmets and high-vis jackets, and have lights fitted before cycling, the RSA added.

'A moment's distraction changed my life forever'

Roberta 'Bobbie' Connolly was just 10-years-old when her life changed forever.

She became distracted while playing with friends near her home, and stepped onto a busy road without looking.

A car struck her, leaving her life hanging into the balance. She spent five months in hospital, and is confined to a wheelchair today.

"I was distracted by a friends' argument," she said. "When I looked a second before, the road was empty. I stepped out, only to be hit. I was struck in my right temple, and spent five months in hospital.

"I suffered from blood clots on the brain, and severe swelling. The motor element of my brain was injured."

Bobbie has difficulty speaking, and uses a special form of typewriter to communicate. She types and it articulates her sentences.

The 37-year old is the eldest of four. "I'm the eldest and still the boss," she said.

She lives in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, in an apartment she purchased nine years ago, and receives some help around her home..

Bobbie represented Ireland in the Paralympics games, but funding has been withdrawn so she can no longer take part. She still enjoys a social life, saying the "lovely drivers" of Dublin Bus help her to get around.

But she warns parents not to ignore their responsibilities and to make sure their children are securely buckled up.

"Parents are very foolish and careless, even downright selfish taking such risks with their child's life."

Irish Independent

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