“Reduce speed, wear seat-belts, use child seats”, UNICEF advocates for three key measures to reduce traffic mortality rate in Iran
Tehran, 21 September 2008 – At the occasion of school start tomorrow, UNICEF Iran is appealing to all drivers and other traffic participants in the country to use extra caution on the road when children will return to kindergartens and schools on 23 September.
With 28,000 deaths on Iran’s roads every year, the country has one of the highest traffic-related mortality rates worldwide. The rate of road accidents in Iran is 20 times higher than the world’s average, and 2.5 per cent of all traffic crashes occur in Iran. On average, every 19 minutes one person looses his or her life on the country’s roads.
Given these dramatic figures, UNICEF Iran, together with Iran’s State Welfare Organisation, Ministry of Health, traffic police and Tehran municipality, is preparing an awareness-raising campaign on road safety and the reduction of traffic accidents for this year’s Children’s Day on 8 October.
Every driver in Iran can take three key measures to help make Iran’s traffic safer:
Ø Reduce speed: Speed is a main factor contributing to road traffic injuries. Reducing speed and driving particularly slow and careful at areas where children are likely to cross roads, such as near kindergartens or schools, considerably contributes to preventing accidents.
Ø Ask children to sit in the back and wear seat-belts: Seat-belts have saved more lives than any other road safety intervention in the event of a crash. They can reduce the risk of all injuries by 40%–50%, and of fatal injuries by 40%–60%. Children should always sit on the back seat and wear a seat-belt.
Ø Install a child restraint: Child restraints, such as infant and child seats and booster seats, have been shown to be highly effective at preventing fatalities among both infants and young children traveling in cars. Child restraints reduce the death rates in car crashes by 71% among infants and by 54% among young children.
“Traffic accidents are the new big threat to the lives of children in Iran,” said Christian Salazar, UNICEF’s Representative in Iran. “Iran has succeeded to reduce child mortality through vaccinations and a very good primary health care system. Now, it is in the hands of the authorities to find ways to reduce child mortality on the country’s roads. However, it will be the general public that has to become more aware of the problem, and act to make Iran’s traffic a safer place.”
Mohammad Hossein Javadi, Director General of the Children and Youth Department of Iran’s State Welfare Organisation, echoed these remarks: “The opening of schools and kindergartens tomorrow will allow for kindergarten teachers and parents to effectively convey basic traffic skills to children. Such training will provide children with simple but important rules on how to behave in traffic, including stopping before stepping off the curb to cross the road, using pedestrian bridges and crossing at pedestrian crossings.” Mr Javadi also emphasized the need for parents to install infant and child seats, and to avoid having children sit on the front seats of cars.
One good example for a governmental traffic initiative is the Hamyare Police campaign by the State Welfare Organisation and Iran’s traffic police. This initiative, which focuses on traffic education in schools and “traffic parks”, was successful in reducing the number of road accidents during last year’s Norooz holidays by 15 per cent, according to Mohammad Rouyanian, chief of Iran’s traffic police. A total of six million pupils throughout the country worked with the traffic police in the Hamyare Police campaign.
 Statistical data from Iran’s Ministry of Health, Police Department and National Injury Survey