The start of the 2021 school year warrants reinforcement of basic road safety education by road safety partners, parents/guardians and schools to support a safe return to school for all children, says the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund’s chief of corporate affairs, Surihe Gaomas-Guchu.
Taking centre stage in awareness-raising initiatives at national level, Covid-19 has led to unprecedented changes in our lives and has placed other public health concerns such as road safety in limbo.
Therefore, in tandem with promoting adherence to Covid-19 protocols and guidelines, addressing road safety risks remains a priority as schools return to a new normal, she added.
Although there was a notable reduction in injuries and fatalities involving children under 15 years old in 2020, crash statistics recorded bythe MVA Fund indicate that children of this age group remain vulnerable road users.
The Fund’s comparative crash statistics for 2019 and 2020 show that 379 children were injured in crashes, which is a reduction of 31% from 550 recorded in 2019, while fatalities also decreased by 24% from 85 to 65 in 2020.
These figures are overtly high, considering the Covid-19 restrictions on movement and school operations in 2020. To counter the worrisome trend of children dying in road accidents, the MVA Fund continues to roll out school activation initiatives as outlined in its strategic plan.
The Fund therefore calls for strengthened road safety compliance by all road users to make the journey to school safer. Thus, motorists are requested to slow down, be alert and obey speed limits near schools.
Those responsible for transporting children to and from school are also advised to plan and prepare their journey to avoid dangerous driving habits such as speeding. Similarly, children cycling or walking to school should exercise extra caution and be visible to motorists at all times.
The Fund further reminds the public to report all crashes to its new Accident Response Number 9682, as doing so could save a life!