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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

A new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection was appointed in November. Markos Kyprianou was born in Limassol, Cyprus. He studied law at the University of Athens, is an associate member of the American Bar Association, member of the Harvard Law School Association of Europe, the International Bar Association, and the Cyprus Red Cross Society. Mr Kyprianou was Minister of Finance from March 2003 to April 2004. In this capacity he was also responsible for Research and Development, Regional Development, Public Administration, and Information Technology. He stated that “I work to ensure that the EU cares for its citizen’s health and that its policies bring real benefits to consumers. My responsibilities include food safety, public health, consumers’ rights and animal welfare. I know these are issues that people care about, and which touch their everyday lives. Europeans expect to see results from the EU’s policy in these areas.” For further information visit: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/commission_barroso/kyprianou/index_en.htm

NEW ZEALANDERS’ ROAD SAFETY ATTITUDES

New Zealand’s Land Transport Safety Authority annually surveys public attitudes to road safety issues. Speed and alcohol are widely acknowledged as major road safety problems. The once commonly held attitude that speeding and drink-driving are not risky, as long as the driver is careful, has gradually lost currency over the past nine years. Perhaps oddly enough, more respondents thought seat belt enforcement lowered the road toll than speed enforcement. Speeding in an urban area was regarded unfavourably; 92% support loss of licence for speeding at 90km/h in a 50km/h zone. Three quarters (76%) now support loss of licence for doing 80km/h in a 50km/h zone, an increase from 72% in 2003 and 68% in 2002. Over two thirds of the respondents ranked making the roads better for pedestrians and for cyclists a top or high priority. More information: http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/publications/public-attitudes/2004.html.

GREATER OVERSIGHT OF DRIVERS WITH HIGH RISK MEDICAL CONDITIONS

In a report adopted in November, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that certain medical conditions can increase a driver’s accident risk and are incompatible with unrestricted operation of motor vehicles. In order to evaluate better the impact of certain medical conditions on a person’s ability to drive, the NTSB asked for a national system to collect accident data including information regarding medical conditions of the drivers involved. The study examined six accidents involving drivers with medical conditions that caused seizures or blackouts while driving. In addition to the call for more data, the NTSB noted that many physicians involved with patient care are not knowledgeable about their state’s reporting policies or about the evaluation of a patient’s fitness to drive. The purpose of the study was to enable individuals to be licensed in accordance with their abilities. As a result the NTSB recommended that medical schools include training on the driving risks associated with certain medical conditions and medications as well as proper driving fitness assessment techniques. A synopsis of the report including a complete list of the conclusions and recommendations can be found on the NTSB website, http://www.ntsb.gov.

INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION REPORT

The World Health Organisation and the World Bank have received the Premier Award as part of the Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards for the World report on road traffic injury prevention. Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards are presented throughout the year to individuals, companies, or organizations in recognition of their outstanding contribution to improving road safety.

CHANGES OF ADDRESS

In the UK, the Child Accident Prevention Trust has moved to 22–26 Farringdon Lane, London EC1R 3AJ, UK. The main telephone and fax numbers stay the same but staff have new direct dial numbers.

SUPPORT FOR MANDATORY STANDARD FOR CIGARETTE LIGHTERS

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously in December to start development of a mandatory safety standard for cigarette lighters. The mandatory standard could be based on the current voluntary Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Lighters (ASTM F-400) to prevent mechanical malfunction of lighters. There are approximately one billion cigarette lighters sold in the US annually. About 400 million of those are imported from China. From 1997 to 2002, the CPSC estimated that 3015 people went to hospital emergency rooms for injuries resulting from malfunctioning lighters. Most of these injuries involved burns to the face, hands, and fingers. For the same period, the CPSC received 256 incident reports related to cigarette lighter malfunctions and failures; 65% of these cigarette lighter failures resulted in fires, leading to three deaths and six serious injuries. The voluntary standard for lighters addresses the risk of fire, death, and injury associated with mechanical malfunction of lighters. A mandatory standard would apply to imported as well as domestically manufactured products.

INDICATORS OF CHILDREN’S HEALTH, DEVELOPMENT, AND WELLBEING

A 16 page bulletin describing the key national indicators being adopted by the Australian government for monitoring the health, development, and wellbeing of the nation’s children has been published by the Australian government’s Institute of Health and Welfare. The bulletin can be downloaded as PDF file from http://www.policypointers.org/page.php?id=1350&a=dl.

Contributors to these news and notes include Caroline Finch, Anara Guard, Peter Jacobsen, Barry Pless, and Ian Scott. Michael Hayes has edited the contributions. Items for future issues, including calendar entries, should be sent to Michael Hayes at the Child Accident Prevention Trust, Cloister Court, 22–26 Farringdon Lane, London EC1R 3AJ, UK, fax +44 (0)20 7608 3674, email mhayescapt.org.uk as soon as possible.

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