Argentina and Chile making progress in child road safety
At the International Road Safety Forum held in Chile in 2016, the Argentinean government through the Ministry of Transport and the National Road Safety Agency committed to hosting the 3rd edition of said forum in 2018, taking up the challenge to improve child road safety.
Taking this objective into account, the National Child Road Safety Program was developed in 2017 focusing traffic public policies on one of the most vulnerable road users. In January 2018 another important step was taken represented by the regulatory decree 32/2018 that amends Traffic Act 24.449 that expands the use of Child Restraint Systems (CRS) from 4 to 10 years old. However, each jurisdiction should comply with the regulations for them to be effective nationwide.
"If you think about it as a mum or dad, our children´s safety is the most important fact. And for our children to travel safely we need to take into account the kind of seats we use since they grow very fast. The World Health Organization classifies seats by age and size. Regulations are currently modifying the age of use, in the past child seats were of mandatory use for children up to 4, now it has been expanded to 10. For children under 10 years old to travel safely, they should do so in the back seat and in the suitable Child Restraint System".
Carlos Perez, National Road Safety Agency, Director
CRS use nationwide. Observational Report 2016.
The Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez has played a fundamental role in this regulatory change providing technical advice and training sessions to staff from the National Road Safety Agency and in a similar fashion to staff from the National Road Safety Committee (CONASET) in Chile.
Chile, FISEVI´s host in 2016, is in a slightly better position. Almost a year after implementing regulatory changes in child road safety Chile is the country in the region with the best CRS use results.
In March 2017 new regulations came into force making it mandatory for children under 12 to travel correctly restrained in the back seat; those under 9 should travel in a CRS suitable for their age, height and weight. At the time, the Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez, in recognition for the joint work conducted, was invited by the Chilean Government to support CONASET´s dissemination activities for the new regulation with mass media, the community and the health sector.
In January 2018, a study by CONASET showed that in 2017, 49.3% of children under 9 years old were traveling in a CRS (66.0% for those under 4 and 42.4% for the age group 4 - 9). Even though Gabriela Rosende, CONASET´s Executive Secretary described results as "worrying”, if we consider the time passed since the implementation of the new regulation, these results are "encouraging".
For Fundación Gonzalo Rodríguez the only acceptable figure for child victims in traffic is 0. In order to keep improving results in both countries and also in Uruguay, it is necessary to implement strict enforcement measures on the compliance of new regulations.