Making Iran’s roads safer: UNICEF Iran celebrates Children’s Day by launching traffic safety campaign
Tehran, 6 October 2008 – A call for safer behaviour on Iran’s roads and increased awareness for the security of children in traffic is the main theme for this year’s Children’s Day celebrations by UNICEF Iran.
“UNICEF is pleased to join the children, parents, teachers, caregivers and all citizens of Iran in celebrating this year’s Children’s Day on 8 October,” UNICEF’s Representative in Iran, Christian Salazar, said at a press conference today.
“It is a special day for Iran’s children, when all eyes are on them and their rights and needs. An important child right is to grow up in a healthy and safe environment, and this is why UNICEF Iran has chosen this year’s Children’s Day to launch an awareness-raising campaign on road safety,” he said.
With 28,000 deaths on Iran’s roads every year, the country has one of the highest traffic-related mortality rates worldwide – 20 times more than the world’s average. In Iran, nearly 2,700 children under the age of 15 died in 2006, and close to 95,000 children and adolescents under the age of 20 received injuries caused by traffic accidents. Road crashes also account for the highest number of injuries among children between 10 and 19 years.
“These figures are frightening, and a response to this dire situation will need a coherent and concerted effort by governmental institutions as well as civil society. For this reason, we are particularly pleased that a coalition of Iranian authorities and institutions have joined UNICEF in its awareness-raising initiative, including the State Welfare Organisation, Ministry of Health, traffic police and Tehran municipality,” Christian Salazar said.
International experience has shown that children and youth can play a key role in city planning and safety assessment projects. They can also become empowered to take over the role of spokesperson for excellent traffic behaviour, reminding their parents and caregivers to take responsible and concrete steps that help save lives in day-to-day traffic. Some basic positive traffic behaviours include:
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 to 50 per cent and of fatal injuries by 40 to 60 per cent. 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 per cent among infants and by 54 per cent among young children.
Ø Wear a helmet: Wearing a helmet is the single most effective way of reducing head injuries and fatalities resulting from motorcycle, moped and bicycle crashes. Motorcycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk and severity of head injury by about 70 per cent. Children should be at least 12 years old or 135 cm tall to ride on motorcycle, and should never do so without a helmet and appropriate protective clothing.
The information campaign is meant to link in with already existing initiatives, such as the successful Hamyare Police campaign by the Ministry of Education and Iran’s traffic police, which brings traffic education to schools and uses “traffic parks” to train children on concrete situations on the road. This campaign, which involved more than six million children countrywide, was able to reduce the number of road accidents during last year’s Norooz holidays by 15 per cent.
This year’s Children’s Day will be celebrated at a launch event in the morning of 8 October in Shehid Beheshti University. In the morning of 14 October, an event at the traffic park near Tehran’s Pounak Square, organized by Tehran municipality, will conclude the celebrations.
 Statistical data from Iran’s Ministry of Health, Police Department and National Injury Survey