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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Professor John Langley, Director of the University of Otago’s Injury Prevention Research Unit was honoured with an International Distinguished Career Award at the 7th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion last month. The APHA/Injury Control and Emergency Health Services (ICEHS) International Distinguished Career Award is presented for outstanding dedication and leadership in injury control internationally with contributions and achievements that have a significant and long term impact on the field. John Langley essentially founded the study of injury prevention and control in his home country of New Zealand and has directed the Injury Prevention Research Unit at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, since 1990. John has worked tirelessly to utilize New Zealand national mortality and hospital discharge databases for the purpose of documenting the extent of the injury problem in New Zealand and has also been instrumental in international efforts to develop standardized injury indicators and to compare injury data across different countries through ongoing involvement in International Collaborative Effort (ICE) on Injury Statistics. He has constantly been involved in injury prevention action in New Zealand, particularly regarding public health policy related issues relevant to reducing transportation related injuries, violence related injuries, childhood injuries, and occupational injuries in the New Zealand. John has simply had a global impact on international efforts to reduce injuries—through publications, collaborative research, intellectual challenges to his peers, and community involvement.
SAFETY OF OLDER PEDESTRIANS
The number of older people is increasing and their proportion in the population is also rising. Most older car drivers reduce driving as they age, and many ultimately give up and become dependent on other forms of transport. The ability to travel is important for the quality of older people’s lives. With fewer journeys as car drivers, and up to 75 years, more as pedestrians, people over 70 in Britain make more journeys on foot than as car drivers. In the light of these facts, Britain’s Department for Transport commissioned a critical review of the literature by Dunbar, Holland, and Maylor at the University of Warwick. The review considered the effects of aging on vision, hearing, physical mobility, and cognitive processes. Although the changes experienced are well established, there has been little direct research linking functional decline to older pedestrian accidents. The review also considers pedestrian behaviour, examines the situations that are particularly difficult or dangerous, and discusses how to improve matters. The report Older Pedestrians: A Critical Review of the Literature. Road Safety Research Report No 37 is available via http://www.dft.gov.uk/ (Road Safety/Research/Road Safety Research Reports).
EXTENDED DATA SOURCE INVENTORY
Health Canada’s Centre for Surveillance Coordination has released the third edition of both print and electronic versions of the Inventory of Injury Data Sources and Surveillance Activities. Thirty five new sources are added to this edition, to make a total of 93 sources now available at www.healthsurv.gc.ca/injury. The aim of the inventory is to build capacity for public health professionals within the field of injury surveillance by identifying an extensive list of major sources of injury data and surveillance activities in a common framework.
NO NEW ZEALAND BAN ON BABY WALKERS
According to Safety Update from New Zealand’s Plunket Society, the country’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs feels that an overall ban on baby walkers would harm consumer choice, a decision not welcomed by Plunket child safety advisor Sue Campbell who applauded the recent Canadian decision to outlaw these products.
EVIDENCE AND GUIDANCE COLLABORATING CENTRE
England’s Health Development Agency has placed four contracts for consortium comprising the Universities of West of England and Newcastle, and the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) has been awarded the three year contract to run the centre on accidental injuries in children and young adults. The consortium is being led by Professor Elizabeth Towner, who has recently moved to the University of the West of England. The Evidence and Guidance Collaborating Centre will maintain the knowledge base in this subject, update the systematic reviews, prepare new reviews, and convert the scientific evidence into information that meets the real needs of practitioners undertaking prevention activities. CAPT’s Projects Director, Dr Mike Hayes, will lead on the work to convert evidence into practical guidance, tapping into knowledge of how to put programmes into place on the ground, having regard for staffing capabilities, policy issues, funding opportunities (or absences), etc.
KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE IN TRAFFIC—NEW REPORT FROM OECD
In many OECD countries, road related crashes are the number one killer of children under the age of 15. Tragically, one child out of every 2100 will die before their 15th birthday in a road related incident, and a considerably higher number will suffer severe injuries or lifelong disabilities. Since the last OECD report on children’s transport safety was published in 1983, an estimated 100 000 children perished in road related crashes, which is not acceptable. Considerable advances have been made in most OECD countries since 1984 which have halved the number of children killed per annum on their roads. More fatalities could still be avoided if all OECD countries adopted practices known to be effective in improving children’s road safety. This report details the progress that has been made in the last 20 years, as well as the need for ongoing change. It provides the latest statistics on children’s injuries, fatalities and trends in transport. It examines the most effective current strategies, identifies areas for improvement and makes a series of policy related recommendations for improving children’s road safety. It can be purchased online from http://www.oecd.org/bookshop in electronic or printed form.
SCOTTISH REPORT ON INJURY IN CHILDREN
In March, NHS Health Scotland published a Briefing Paper compiled by Professor David Stone and Susanne Jeffrey, entitled Injury in Children. The purpose of the report was to inform health promotion policy making on child injury prevention in Scotland. The report provides information on the frequency of injury, both unintentional and intentional, among children in Scotland; and presents a breakdown of injury statistics by demographic and other variables, comparing Scotland with other parts of the UK, Europe, and beyond. The report also examines the policy context for Scotland, again making comparisons with other countries. The authors note that Scotland has arguably reached a crossroads in terms of its response to the injury challenge. They conclude that Scotland’s past record has been disappointing, falling behind other parts of the UK and the EU, which have followed the lead of countries such as the USA, Sweden, and Australia. The Scottish approach, according to Stone and Jeffrey, has been tentative and unimaginative. Because injury prevention is a multiagency, multidisciplinary task, fragmentation and duplication of effort is inevitable in the absence of an overarching strategy. They conclude that Scotland now lags well behind Wales and England in its approach to injury prevention policy, lacking any initiative remotely comparable to either the Welsh or English reviews—with this continuing policy neglect of injury posing an indirect but nevertheless real threat to the health and wellbeing of Scottish children. Their most important recommendation is that a national strategy for child injury prevention in Scotland should be developed as a matter of urgency. NHS Health Scotland is planning a seminar in December to promote discussion of the report’s recommendations. The report can be downloaded from http://www.hebs.com/research/cr/crscripts/FTReportTitles.cfm?sc=research.
NEW CANADIAN RESOURCES
Safe Kids Canada and the Canadian Collaborating Centres for Injury Prevention and Control have launched Credibility and Endorsement Guidelines for professionals. Judging the credibility of information and sources of information can be challenging. Who do you trust as a source of information and why? In addition, the need for collaboration among various sectors continues to grow. Partnerships are multifaceted and complex, offering both benefits and drawbacks for those involved. How do you decide what the implications are when partnering? Visit http://www.safekidscanada.ca/ENGLISH/IP_PROFESSIONALS/ResourcesCommunityPartners/default.html to check out these new resources.
NEW PLAYGROUND STANDARD IN NEW ZEALAND
Standards New Zealand says that its new playground standard will provide the right balance of challenge and safety for youngsters. The new Standard NZS EN 5828:2004 Playground Equipment and Surfacing updates the previous standard published in 1986. It is based on European standards which were adopted instead of the American standards which local agencies felt were too restrictive. Compliance with the new standard is voluntary.
NEW EXERCISE MANUAL GIVEN THUMBS UP
The NoFalls Exercise Program was designed as one of the interventions in a large trial run by the Monash University Accident Research Centre in the local government area of Whitehorse, in Melbourne, Australia. The exercise program was shown to protect balance and significantly reduce the number of falls experienced among community dwelling people aged 70 years and over, and these results were published in the British Medical Journal in 2002. Since then, the NoFalls Exercise Program Manual has been produced, with funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, in response to significant interest in this exercise program. NoFalls is a 15 week group exercise program of one session a week, focusing on improving balance, flexibility, and leg strength. Exercises include stepping, squats against a wall, the use of ankle weights and balance boards, as well as eye exercises to improve processing of visual cues for balance. The manual is designed for use by qualified exercise professionals, and is not intended to be a self help manual. It presents detailed descriptions and photographs to clearly explain each of the NoFalls exercises. It also gives details of precautions, suggested modifications for special needs, and progression to more challenging levels. It includes a week-by-week guide to the timing of exercises, a weekly class program, and a home program. The manual has been designed to be used as a convenient flip chart (it comes with its own stand) for easy reference during classes. Feedback from exercise group leaders who have already used the manual indicates that it is serving a very useful function. Users remark that it is a valuable resource, comprehensive, well set out, and easy to understand. The NoFalls manual is available at: www.general.monash.edu.au/muarc/nofalls.
SEAT BELT USE RATES
The latest figures of car seat belt use from the UK laboratory, TRL (Transport Research Laboratory), show that 66% of rear seat passengers over the age of 14 were wearing a belt, compared with 57% in October 2002. For drivers, the figure has risen from 90% to 93% between October 2002 and April 2004. For front seat passengers, it has risen from 92% to 94%. In all age groups, seat belt wearing among females is higher than among males.
NEW WHO PUBLICATION RELATING TO CHILDREN
Inheriting the World: The Atlas of Children’s Health and the Environment by Bruce Gordon, Richard Mackay, and Eva Rehfuess has been published by WHO. More than three million children die every year due to unhealthy environments. This atlas tackles issues as diverse as the devastating and largely unknown impact of indoor air pollution, the unfashionable yet huge tragedy of sanitation, and complex emerging issues like climate change. Full colour maps and graphics clearly demonstrate the threats that children face everywhere, and underscore the impact of poverty on children’s health. While this crisis cannot be ignored and demands urgent action, success stories, such as the Montreal Protocol, show a way forward for the world to make sure that our children will inherit a safer planet and a brighter future. The contents of the report can be viewed at http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/atlas/en/ where the whole document or individual chapters can be downloaded.
MOTOR CYCLE HELMET EFFECTIVENESS INCREASES
A recent US Department of Transportation (DOT) study finds that helmet design has improved over the past 15 years. The effectiveness of helmets in preventing fatalities has increased from 19% in 1982 through 1987 to 37% over the years 1993 through 2002. The increased effectiveness of motorcycle helmets means that over the 10 year period from 1993 through 2002, helmets have saved 7808 lives. A rider can reduce his or her risk of suffering a fatal injury in a crash by over one third, merely by wearing a helmet. Ironically, this same study finds that while helmet safety is increasing, the number of fatal motorcycle crashes in the United States has been increasing in recent years as the percentage of riders who use helmets has fallen from 71% to 58% annually (DOT. Motorcycle Helmet Effectiveness Revisited. March 2004, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/nrd-30/NCSA/Rpts/2004/809715.pdf).
Another recent DOT report highlights what can happen when a motorcycle helmet law is repealed. Both Kentucky (1998) and Louisiana (1999) repealed their helmet laws. Helmet use fell from nearly full compliance under the laws to 50% without the laws. While the number of motorcycles registered increased by 20% and the vehicle miles travelled increased by 6% and probably account for some increase in fatalities, motorcyclist deaths in both states increased in sizeable amounts after the repeal of the laws. In Kentucky, deaths increased by 50% and in Louisiana by 100%. Injuries also increased in both states (DOT. Evaluation of the Repeal of Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Kentucky and Louisiana. October 2003 http:www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/kentucky-la03/TecDoc.htm).
SOLAR POWERED ROAD MARKERS
A solar powered road marker that will flash when school zones are active was shown at the CARRS-Q 2004 Australian Road Safety Inventors Forum in May. A set of markers, that can be managed by remote control, can act as road dividers, warning drivers that they are in a school zone and need to slow to 40 km/h. For an overview of the inventions showcased visit http://www.carrsq.qut.edu.au/i_forum.jsp.
SURVEY OF ROAD SAFETY POLICY AND PRACTICE
The UK’s Department for Transport has commissioned a research report, Children’s Road Traffic Safety: An International Survey of Policy and Practice, to complement a report from the OECD’s Child Traffic Safety Expert Group. The aim of the survey is to provide basic high level data, on a consistent basis, from OECD member countries that identifies and accounts for current patterns of child road safety, and identifies current best practices and countermeasures in place to improve child road safety. There were three key survey elements: an analysis of International Road Traffic and Accident Data (IRTAD) fatality data, an analysis of the relationship between socioeconomic and demographic indicators and fatality rates, and a questionnaire based survey. Among its many analyses, the report aims to identify the factors that distinguish the pedestrian, cycling and vehicle occupant practices of the top performing countries with others with respect to infrastructure safety measures, education and training, national and regional publicity, legislation and behaviour, research commissioned, and national plans. The report, by Christie, Towner, Cairns and Ward, can be found available via http://www.dft.gov.uk/ (Road Safety/Research/Road Safety Research Reports).
25 000 DEATHS LATER …
New York’s deadline of 28 June 2004 requiring cigarettes sold in the state to be less likely to cause a fire comes 25 years after fire safe cigarette legislation was first introduced in Congress. In the years since, while regulatory bills languished in Congress and in legislatures of several states, including California, some 25 000 Americans perished in fires sparked by unattended cigarettes, according to annual estimates by the National Fire Protection Association.
CHILD PEDESTRIAN INJURY IN QUEENSLAND
The June issue of Injury Bulletin from the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit focuses on child pedestrian injury in the state. In summary, it reports that seven child pedestrians are killed on Queensland roads every year; between 1998 and 2003, 539 children presented to QISU-participating hospitals with pedestrian related injuries; boys between 5 and 9 years are most likely to be injured; child pedestrians are more likely than adult pedestrians to suffer head and chest injuries; the most dangerous time for school age child pedestrians is weekdays between 3 pm and 6 pm but particularly the hour immediately after school; and children under 10 years are ill equipped to cross roads because of poor peripheral vision and their poor judgment of speed and distance. The bulletin (and past issues) can be accessed via http://www.qisu.org.au.
7TH WORLD CONFERENCE ON INJURY PREVENTION AND SAFETY PROMOTION
Organisers of the 7th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion that took place in June in Vienna report that 1367 delegates took part from 102 countries, 1538 scientific presentations were given plus 12 state-of-the-art, presentations on the latest research activities in the field, 60 parallel sessions took place with 360 oral presenters, eight satellite conferences were organised highlighting special themes, and 170 experts from low income countries were invited to attend through scholarships. The abstracts of the papers presented at the conference can be downloaded via http://www.safety2004.info/final_programme.php. The 8th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion (http://www.safety2006.info) will be held in South Africa in 2006.
INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON INJURY RESEARCH METHODS
The presentations delivered at this seminar, held in conjunction with the World Conference in Vienna, are available on the ECOSA website, http://www.ecosa.org/csi/ecosa2003.nsf/news.
NEW US BEDDING FLAMMABILITY REGULATIONS BEING DRAFTED
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission will have new draft proposed flammability standards for mattresses and upholstered furniture ready for consideration this fall. The draft proposed federal mandatory standards will address deaths and injuries from fires involving open flame ignition of mattresses and both small open flame (matches, lighters, candles) and cigarette ignition of upholstered furniture. A 1973 mandatory standard already makes mattresses resist cigarette ignition. In recent years, mattress and bedding fires caused an average of 470 deaths annually. Upholstered furniture fires caused an average of 580 deaths annually.
NEW ISCAIP WEBSITE
The International Society for Child and Adolescent Injury Prevention (ISCAIP) has revamped its website and moved it to http://www.iscaip.net.
BURNS IN VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
The autumn edition of Hazard, from the Victorian Injury Surveillance and Applied Research System, presents a detailed overview of unintentional burns and scalds in vulnerable populations—the very young and very old—in Victoria between July 2001 and June 2003. The study provides preliminary evidence that currently implemented countermeasures especially in the area of scalds prevention (specifically hot tap water temperature regulation) is having a beneficial effect. However, the authors note that a multistrategy approach that combines education, publicity, regulation and enforcement, incentives, and safety design innovations is needed if further reductions are to be made in reducing the burden of burns and scalds on the most vulnerable groups in the community. Hazard can be received by email by visiting http://www.general.monash.edu.au/muarc/visar/Haz.htm.
BRITAIN’S 2003 ROAD CASUALTIES FIGURES RELEASED
The Department for Transport announced in June that road accident casualties in Britain among children under 16 years fell by 8% in 2003. The number of children killed or seriously injured was 4100 (down 11% on 2002). Of those, 2381 were pedestrians, 16% down on 2002. There were 171 child fatalities, 4% fewer than in 2002. For all age groups, there was a small increase in fatalities, attributable in part to a 14% increase in fatal casualties among two wheeled motor vehicle users. Road traffic levels were 1% higher in 2003 than 2002; consequently the overall casualty rate per 100 million vehicle kilometres was 5% lower than in 2002.
CRASH TEST TO REMAIN UNCHANGED
The US consumer group Public Citizen has failed in legal action to force the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) to increase the standard used in crash testing of cars. The organization argued that the current 25 mph head-on crash test puts consumers at risk by allowing vehicle manufacturers to make airbags less powerful. Between 1993 and 1997 NHTSA used a 30 mph crash test, this was reduced to a 22 mph test after a series of child airbag related deaths, but increased to a 25 mph crash test after Congress asked for action to better protect all users. Public Citizen argued that only a 30 mph crash test would meet the 2001 demand from Congress and that lower speeds allow airbags to be less powerful. The court ruled that current requirements adequately protect people who do not wear seat belts arguing that many automakers already meet a 30 mph standard, and have no incentive to make airbags less powerful. NHTSA said they wanted automakers to focus more on air bag sensors that determine an occupant’s weight, rather than the speed of the vehicle. The 25 mph standard for crash tests to protect occupants not wearing seat belts will be in place until 2006, when it will be re-evaluated. Crash tests to protect occupants wearing seat belts are conducted using a 35 mph standard.
FEARS OF LITIGATION PROMPT POOLS TO TURN AWAY FAMILIES
Thousands of children are missing swimming sessions in Britain because fear of litigation is driving councils to impose 12 year old guidelines restricting the number of children that adults can take swimming. The non-compulsory guidelines, drawn up in the early 1990s by the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management, advise pools that an adult should accompany each child under four. Another adult must be present for every two children aged from 4 to 8. Right to Swim, a pressure group of more than 7500 concerned parents that was formed in March, says it has so far found 20 councils that have started to enforce the guidelines. The organisation’s secretary said that the restrictions were particularly difficult for one parent families and families where one parent was disabled, and could also affect carers, childminders, and nursery groups. She warned that children were being denied the chance to learn to swim and play water sports in a safe environment, and claimed many pools were profiting from reduced insurance premiums and arranging special sessions in the baby pool for affected parents instead.
Contributors to these news and notes include Monica Dennis, Jennifer Hall, Peter Jacobsen, Deidre O’Reilly, 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, 18–20 Farringdon Lane, London EC1R 3HA, UK, fax +44 (0)20 7608 3674, email mhcapt.org.uk as soon as possible.