Progress in reducing road-related deaths and injuries in Irish children.
The aim was to study road-related injuries and fatalities in under 15 year olds in two time periods (1996-2000 and 2004-2008 inclusive) to assess whether progress has been made via cross-sectoral efforts to reduce this injury toll in Ireland. For pedestrian and car-related accidents, police assistance is required and at the time a detailed CT 68 form is completed by the attending officer and sent to the Road Safety Authority for analysis. Details re the severity of injury, light and road conditions and safety measures such as seat belt or car restraint use, seat position and helmet use if a cyclist were recorded. Injuries were sub-classified as fatalities, serious (detained in hospital, fractures, severe head injury, severe internal injuries or shock requiring treatment) or minor. All data for the two time periods was entered onto an SPSS database. A concerted national campaign re road safety media campaign allied to random breath testing, penalty points for driving offences, on the spot fines for speeding and far greater police enforcement took place between the two time frames and continues to this day. When looked at as most likely estimates of death ratios the results were found to be statistically significant with an overall p value of < 0.0001 CI [0.39, 0.69]. When broken down into specific age ranges all were significant apart from the 0-3 age range with a p value of 0.69 CI [0.26, 1.1]. The most significant changes were found in the 7-9 years, 10-12 and 13-15 year age ranges with p values of < 0.0001, 0.0002 and 0.0007 respectively. When results were compared between the two cohorts, car occupant fatalities between both groups dropped by 36%. Pedestrian injuries dropped from 1719 to 1232, pedestrian fatalities decreased by almost 50% as did serious pedestrian injuries from 261 down to 129. Cyclist fatalities saw the most significant fall (76%) with a dramatic reduction in cyclist injuries from 25 down to 6 (63%). The 13-15 year old age group had the highest mortality and morbidity in both cohorts. Documented restraint use was less than 70% in both cohorts. A national road safety campaign, greater police enforcement and a cultural change has seen road-related injuries in children drop very significantly (by 50%) over the two time periods and this campaign should continue.