Did you know that about 20 children are killed every day in India due to road crashes? Road crashes are estimated to cause a loss of 3% of our GDP. Road safety experts who met on the occasion of National Road safety week stressed on the need of robust legislation and strict enforcement of road safety norms to avoid the loss ofÂ young productive lives to death and disability, which is leading to huge drain on the economy. Experts also saidÂ one need to consider the emotional suffering of the entire families that are shattered by losing members to road crashes.
Addressing the press conference, Dr. Kripa Amar Alva, chairperson of Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) said â€œEvery morning I see young children being ferried around on two wheelers by their parents or care providers being dropped to schools. It is disheartening to see the parents wearing helmets but offering no protection whatsoever to the two or three children they have on the two wheelers with them. In fact not only lack of helmets, but they are also exposed to other threats such as being placed in the front of the two-wheeler or precariously holding onto the child in front of them. Not only school children but even neonates sometimes end up being transported on two wheelers for lack of other better options. All these risky behaviors are just asking for tragedies to happenâ€, She added.
It is not uncommon to see news articles of deaths of very young children in road crashes. While every parent is cautious and never does anything to harm their child intentionally traveling with young children on two wheelers without any protective gears daily is a big risk. Given the socio-economic fabric of our nation three to four people riding on two wheelers is a common sight one that would not surprise any of us. But considering the safety aspect this stands out as a glaring avoidable circumstance that people should definitely avoid as far as possible.
Dr. Pragati Hebbar from Road Safety Initiative for Safe Karnataka (RISK) said â€œWhat are the options available to ensure children are transported safely? To name a few use of child restraints in four wheelers and appropriate protective headgear for two wheelers, public transport, cycling, vehicle pooling, etc.Â There is also some new thinking in this line wherein some innovators are trying to create an airbag sort of protective headgear for very young children which can be wrapped to their head and in case of impact it would expand like an airbag and protect the childâ€™s head. There also seem to be some protective strap-on belts which can ensure the child is not flung away in case of a crash.â€ These are just a few practical steps that parents can take to protect their children during commute, but a lot needs to be done on the policy level.Â She added.
The recent amendment bill of Motor Vehicles seems to address child safety to some extent by including child restraints, but no specifications for children under the age of four years riding on two wheelers. Having a robust legislation would be a first step in preventing these avoidable deaths and disability. The next important step would be implementing these laws and getting the peopleâ€™s buy in to prompt compliance. Looking at the pace at which things are going seems like it would still take some time before we reach close to the ambitious target of halving road crash deaths by 50%.
Sri. C P Narayana Swamy, Additional Commissioner, Transport was also present and said department understands the need for the effective enforcement of road safety law and will always support to ensure the safety of the children on road.