„When the lives of children are at stake, there can be no compromises in terms of safety," says extreme athlete Hannes Arch. "Many people think extreme sports is just about taking on increasingly great risks. What it is actually about is assessing risk correctly."
Every three minutes, a child is involved in an accident in Austria. Approximately every two to three weeks, a child dies in an accident. This makes accidents one of the greatest health risks for children - and numbers continue to rise. Recently, the KFV noted an increase of 4.4 percent (2013: 160,000 accidents; 2014: 167,100 accidents). In Vienna, there was an increase in accidents involving children under the age of 15 of 5.7 percent (2013: 24,700 accidents; 2014: 26,100 accidents). "Through simple prevention measures, an Austria-wide reduction of up to 100,000 child accidents annually in Austria would be more than feasible," says Dr. Othmar Thann, Director of KFV (Austrian Road Safety Board).
"Assess risks correctly!"
„When the lives of children are at stake, there can be no compromises in terms of safety," says extreme athlete Hannes Arch. „Many people think extreme sports is just about taking on increasingly great risks. What it is actually about is assessing risk correctly. What is often overlooked is how hard professionals train in order to transcend certain limits. My flights, too, are a combination of solid technique, good equipment, extensive training and experience, which means that I am able to reduce the overall risk of accidents as far as possible. Everyone says my flying style is extremely aggressive, but I am actually a very cautious person. I consider each risk very carefully. In the cockpit, pure reason reigns," says Arch. Of course Arch doesn't support the idea of wrapping children in cotton wool: „Exploring the world and figuring out dangers by themselves is important and essential for children. But it is up to us adults to create a safe environment for this purpose and to show children ways of learning to handle risks correctly," says Arch.
Accidents are not coincidences - successful counter-strategies
Accidents are not coincidences - they have causes: As the current KFV study shows, when parents think about their children's safety, they often view road traffic as full of dangers and their own home as a safe space. But reality paints a different picture: Only two percent of child accidents occur in road traffic. 73 percent of accidents happen in the home and during leisure acitivities (approx. 123,000 injured children under the age of 15 in 2014), and over 20 percent occur at school and travelling to and from school. The majority of accidents are falls. Many of these accidents occur in an area which parents can influence directly: the home. „Through increasing parents' risk awareness and some simple safety measures, homes can quickly be made safe for children and accidents can be avoided. The most tragic accidents - e.g. deadly falls from windows, which recur regularly - are those which could be prevented through appropriate measures,“ Thann appeals to parents. For example, windows should always be equipped with window restrictors. Most suitable are restrictors that are already integrated into the window or door handle and can be opened only with a key. The consistent use of appropriate child seats and constant use of seat belts for children in vehicles (even for short journeys!) as well as wearing appropriate safety gear for sports (cycling helmet!) can help to prevent serious accidents.
Initiative against child accidents - VISION ZERO 2020: Child accidents are preventable!
No child killed or severely injured in Austria- this is the ambitous objective of the „Vision Zero 2020“ initiative. In accordance with the motto „Full attention - Zero accidents!“ targeted information and exciting campaigns are to increase awareness for protecting our little ones and child accidents are to be prevented through practical prevention measures.