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Campaign to teach kids about road safety
By Chen Qide (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-01 00:59

Shanghai plans to launch a citywide campaign to educate parents and kids about pedestrian safety and against road traffic injuries, which are already leading causes of death among local children.

The road safety education is expected to reach 450,000 children -- almost all the primary school pupils in Shanghai -- through traffic safety posters and teaching manuals.

School safety committees and community-wide pedestrian safety task forces -- made up of parents, school administrators, community leaders and other advocates -- will be set up to improve pedestrian safety in school zones.

"This will provide the children at risk with the necessary tools to make their daily walks safe," said Martin Eichelberger, president and founder of US-based SAFE KIDS Worldwide.

According to the Shanghai Traffic and Criminal Administrations (STCA), the rate of local child deaths from road traffic injuries is 1.93 per 100,000 people.

Traffic injuries cause approximately 25 per cent of all unintentional injury-related deaths of students in Shanghai, making it the number one cause of death in the city.

"Most children aged 14 and under who suffer traffic injuries are pedestrians," said Eichelberger.

According to SAFE KIDS China, a member of SAFE KIDS Worldwide, road traffic injuries claim the lives of more than 18,500 children aged 14 and under in China and 67,000 children in Asia annually.

SAFE KIDS Worldwide joined hands with FedEx to launch a new regional pedestrian safety initiative in the city Wednesday to combat pedestrian road traffic injury.

The event, called SAFE KIDS Walk This Way, is part of its Asia Pacific programme, that was initiated at Cao Guangbiao Primary School in Shanghai Wednesday by joining forces with local community leaders and schools.

A local traffic police officer said the event will help students improve their safety awareness and encourage motorists' to pay attention to safety in school zones.

Twelve child pedestrian safety tips will be taught in schools to help children follow the rules of road safety such as "walk, do not run into the street" and "do not cross the street alone if younger than age 10," he said.

An analysis of motor vehicle collisions conducted by STCA showed that the two main reasons for child traffic injuries are "children suddenly running into driveways and crossing a street behind or just in front of a car."

These checks were conducted on the walking routes of more than 600 Chinese students, aged 8 to 10, in 10 Shanghai primary schools.

The survey also showed that 65 per cent of children aged 8 to 10 walked to school, but only 15 per cent were accompanied by adults.

"At least 50 per cent of children encountered serious hazards on their routes to school," Eichelberger said.

About 40 per cent of children surveyed had problems crossing roads. Lack of traffic signs and crosswalks were the major problems faced.

"However, all of these deaths are preventable if effective measures are taken," he said.

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