Child deaths on roads tripled in a single year to 14
Almost three times as many children died on Irish roads in 2014 compared with the previous year.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) said 14 children aged 14 and under died as a result of road traffic accidents last year compared with only five in 2013.
Prof Alf Nicholson, a consultant paediatrician at Temple Street Children’s Hospital, told a conference in Dublin Castle that children are more at risk on the roads in summer, with 45pc of child fatalities happening between July and September.
Saturday is the day when most fatal accidents occur, with 27pc recorded on that day.
Several parents whose children died in road accidents attended the conference.
They included Roseann Brennan, whose son Jake (6) died when he was hit by a car outside his home in Kilkenny last year; Tony Cullen, whose daughter Clodagh (4) died when she was hit by a car in
Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, in 2007; and Lucia O’Farrell, whose son Shane (23) died when he was hit by a car outside Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, while out cycling in 2011.
Prof Nicholson urged parents to ensure that children under the age of 12 are properly restrained, adding that he sees injuries to children aged between eight and 12 who are considered too big for booster seats but suffer horrific injuries in car accidents.
Overall, Ireland is in a good place compared with other EU countries in terms of child road safety, with “fantastic” progress made in the past 15 years.
But around 10pc of children are still not correctly restrained in cars, and are at “a massively high risk” of injury or death in the case of a collision.
Prof Nicholson said that when a child dies on the road it is often seen as an “act of God”, but studies show this is not true.
There are patterns involved, he said, so they can be prevented.
RSA chairperson Liz O’Donnell said we are now at a critical juncture with children’s safety on the roads.
“Fourteen children’s lives were lost in 2014. That’s 14 families, schools and communities suffering devastating loss,” she said.
Ms O’Donnell added that the hardest thing is to accept that deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads are preventable.
Ms O’Donnell said it was “shocking” that garda reports into collisions show that one in 10 children were not properly restrained.
“Parents must treat their children as precious in the car,” she said.