A recent study published in the BMJ Paediatrics Open journal found a connection between stricter road traffic laws following several national road safety interventions and a fall in child deaths on Irish roads over the past 25 years.
Between 1991 and 2015, a total of 1,521 deaths among children and adolescents between the ages of 0-19 years were registered in Ireland with ‘land transport collision’ as the certified cause of death. The study, which covered two-and-a-half-decades, found paediatric road deaths fell dramatically; dropping 79.0% among those children under the age of 14, (from 34 deaths a year to 8 deaths) and 68.4% among 15-19-year-olds (from 52 deaths a year to 14 deaths).
The researchers stated:
“The timing and pace of the observed decline in road traffic collision deaths suggests that it may be attributed at least in part to a series of national intervention strategies and legislative changes.”
In 2002, the penalty point system with a primary focus on speed reduction was introduced, around the same time that the rate of road traffic collision deaths among under-14s halved. This number dropped even further after legislation that strengthened the point system by enhancing the PPS and lowering the blood alcohol limit came in 2010.
Following 2003’s ruling of compulsory seat belt use in addition to the mandatory use of appropriate child restraint systems in 2006, the fatality rate among those 1-14 years old decline at a rate of more than 10% per annum.
Older children deaths have been “consistent with international data, and often attributed to inexperience and increased risk-taking behaviour by young male drivers, particularly when accompanied by peers, a possibility supported by narrowing of the gender gap as rate of fatalities declined”.