'Slow down' plea as 14 children die on roads in 2014
THE mother of a young boy who was struck and killed by a car outside his home wants more responsibility to be put on to drivers when it comes to child safety.
Roseanne Brennan - whose son Jake (6) died last year in Kilkenny - said the problem was speed and cars, not children.
Ms Brennan, speaking at the Road Safety Authority (RSA) International Conference on Children and Road Safety, also called for refresher courses on road safety for experienced drivers.
"They keep putting it on the kids and going on about teaching children how to use roads safely, but there is a problem with speed and cars and not kids," she told the Irish Independent.
The conference heard that the number of child road deaths almost tripled last year, with 14 deaths in 2014 compared with just five in 2013.
Ms Brennan successfully campaigned to have the speed limit in housing estates reduced. It was lowered from 50kmh to 30kmh - though she had hoped to have it brought down to 20kmh.
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, in an opening address, said the gardaí had a role to play in enforcing life-saving measures on the roads, but said more could be done to improve the current situation.
Meanwhile, a consultant paediatrician at Temple Street Children's Hospital said he was still seeing serious injuries in children because they were not properly restrained at the time of impact. Some children between the ages of six and 12 have been paralysed as a result of a seatbelt being too loose because they were not sitting on a booster cushion, said Professor Alf Nicholson.
He pointed to analysis which showed that almost half of all child road accidents occurred in summer, with 45pc happening between July and September.
Some 27pc of all road accidents involving children happen on Saturdays, while between 4pm and 5.59pm is the riskiest time of the day, accounting for 31pc of accidents.
He said speed is the highest risk factor in the deaths of child pedestrians, with minimal risk where cars travel below 30kmh.
Liz O'Donnell, chairwoman of the RSA, said that any life lost on our roads was a tragedy, but "losing a child is unbearable and unnatural".
"The hardest thing to accept is that these deaths and serious injuries on our roads are preventable," she said.