The number of children killed or seriously injured in UK road accidents has risen for the first time in 20 years.
Road safety campaigners have blamed the rise on parents failing to ensure their children are properly restrained either by a seatbelt or in a correctly installed car seat.
New figures reveal the number of children killed or seriously injured rose by 3% to 2,060 last year, the first full year rise since 1995.
In the year ending September 2014, 1,730 people were killed and 22,630 were seriously injured on British roads. Total casualties rose by 5% from 184,087 in 2013 to 192,910 last year.
A study conducted by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory found that 13% of child car passengers were not being properly restrained, compared with just 1.9% of adults who were caught not wearing a seatbelt.
These figures are shocking. Taking just a few moments to use a seat belt or child restraint - the collective term for baby seats, child seats, booster seats, and booster cushions - could help save lives and reduce injuries in the event of a road traffic accident.
Put simply, if parental complacency continues when it comes to failing to ensure their child passengers are properly secured, the chances of a tragic outcome resulting from a crash, remain high.
The law states that children must use the correct child restraint for their weight until they reach 135cm tall or their 12th birthday, whichever is first. From then on they are required to wear the correct child restraint or an adult seat belt at all times.
Worryingly, even when parents take the time to secure their children, research suggests many are failing to ensure child seats are properly installed, either by accident or through ignorance.
Last year, a Which survey revealed that a staggering nine out of 10 shops were making “potentially lethal mistakes” when showing parents how to properly install their child and baby car seats.
The Department for Transport’s latest road casualty report concluded that ‘Child Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) casualties had risen in each quarter of 2014, compared with the same periods in 2013.
The increases have resulted in the first rise in rolling year comparisons in child KSI casualties since the year ending March 1995.
These figures reveal an alarming rise in in-car child casualties and show how the UK Government’s road safety record has completely u-turned.
We need a return of road safety campaigns that specifically target children and we need a sustained commitment from HM Government to educate both children and parents on the importance of wearing seatbelts and ensuring child restraints are fitted properly.
Deborah Johnson is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater & Gordon Lawyers in Manchester specialising in Road Traffic Accident compensation claims.
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