Background With an epidemic of traffic injuries affecting children worldwide, a better understanding of the data, including parent attitudes and behaviours, is essential.
Methods A survey was conducted among a diverse group of 6000 parents in six nations in 2014. In Brazil, China and South Africa, the survey was fielded by phone; in Qatar and India, by interviews; and in the United States, online. To assess the burden of road traffic deaths and injuries on children worldwide, data from the Global Burden of Diseases Study was analysed.
Results More than 90 percent of parents in Brazil, China, India, Qatar and South Africa said more needs to be done to improve road safety for children. More than half of parents in five out of six countries said they are concerned about their child’s safety on the way to school. In India, 66 percent of parents expect their child to be seriously hurt in a crash in the next year. In the United States, more than 70 percent of parents worry about their child being hit by a distracted or speeding driver on the way to school. Analysis of GBD data showed that, in 2010, road crashes were the leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 19, with teenagers accounting for nearly half of deaths. More than 90 percent of road deaths among children occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
Conclusions Parents around the world are highly concerned about the safety of their children on the roads. These concerns are justified since road crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19. A strong focus on building awareness, expanding prevention programs, advocating for laws, and enhancing enforcement, consistent with the pillars of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety, is needed.