No child killed or severely injured in Austria! This ambitious objective was presented by KFV, AUVA and the "Große schützen Kleine" association at a joint press conference in Vienna. According to the motto "Full attention - Zero accidents!", creative activities and targeted information are to increase awareness for protecting out little ones and child accidents are to be prevented through practical prevention measures.
Vienna, 06. March 2014
„Goals should always be set as high as possible - particularly where the safety of our children is concerned," Dr. Othmar Thann, Director of KFV, presented the "Vision Zero 2020" on Thursday morning at a press conference. Together with Univ. Prof. Michael E. Höllwarth, President of the „Große schützen Kleine" association and KommR Renate Römer, Chairlady of AUVA, Thann expanded on the ambitious goal, which will increasingly declare all of Austria a child-safe zone starting in 2014. Practical prevention tips for daily life, creative competitions, monthly key subjects and awareness-raising campaigns are to address adults and children alike and motivate them to recognise risks and eradicate them - often through simple prevention measures. "Adults must be sensitised to risk scenarios and children should be playfully accustomed to a safe daily life. Together, we can realise 'Vision Zero 2020'!" emphasises Römer.
Full attention - Zero accidents!
The importance of targeted measures for accident prevention in Austria is illustrated by countless positive examples for the protection of our little ones. E.g., the seat belt requirement for children was a topic of controversy just a few decades ago, while today, according to the KFV prevention monitor, it is a matter of course to secure children in the car at all times for 96 percent of Austrians.
The introduction of the cycling helmet requirement for children under the age of 12 also contributed to the number of helmets worn: just one year after its introduction, 86 percent of under 12 year olds wore a helmet when cycling - this increase in helmet wearing by around one third prevented approximately 100 head injuries.
„Despite some positive success, many more efforts are required," explains Thann. Every three minutes, a child is involved in an accident in Austria. This means about 164,000 children under the age of 15 involved in accidents annually (annual average 2010-2012). On average, a child dies as a result of an accident every two weeks. "Child accidents happen within a split second. We know: small injuries are a part of growing up and the development of the child, and such injuries usually heal quickly. What is not acceptable, however, are accidents in which children die or suffer permanent damage due to lacking protection or safety measures. Through education, sensitising and simple tips and tricks for prevention, we want to create environments which ensure that children in Austria are optimally protected," highlights Thann.
Accidents are among the greatest health risks for children
Accidents are no coincidences - they have causes. When we are aware of these causes (sources of danger and accident scenarios), many accidents can be prevented. "Targeted accident analyses highlight the specific areas of risk for children in daily life. Thus, around 75 percent of child accidents happen in the home or during leisure activities; on average, this corresponds to around 121,000 children annually" (annual average 2010-2012), explains Höllwarth. Many of these accidents occur in an area which parents can influence directly: the home. Through installing passive protection measures such as staircase safety gates, window restrictors or stove safety guards, many accidents can be prevented.
Accidents are not coincidences - successful countermeasures
At the BÄRENBURG, the Child Safety House Graz, parents and children can find out how easy it is to eliminate sources of danger in the home. At www.baerenburg.at, you can also visit the BÄRENBURG online. "An awareness of potentially dangerous scenarios is the first step towards the effective prevention of accidents," child safety expert Höllwarth reports on the successful BÄRENBURG information project, which trained 12,000 children in the last 5 years on safe behaviour in the home and in road traffic.
How the number of accidents among children can be reduced is illustrated bay another successful prevention project of GROSSE SCHÜTZEN KLEINE. In a project spanning several years, "KinderSicherer Bezirk Deutschlandsberg" was able to prevent 16 percent of child accidents that require hospital treatment within 4 years. This was possible through intensive dissemination of information and local projects with children, young people and adults.
Children are often overestimated
The abilities of children as active participants in road traffic - be it as pedestrians or cyclists - is often misgauged, i.e. overestimated. A scientific study by GROSSE SCHÜTZEN KLEINE revealed that due to the as yet incomplete stage of psycho-motor development, children are only able to gauge traffic situations - as dangerous or safe - at the age of 10-12. A further study on the voluntary cycling exam showed that after just half a year, half of the children no longer mastered the traffic rules. These findings on children in road traffic should, on the one hand, be utilised in driving schools and, on the other hand, parents should also be aware that even when children pass the voluntary cycling exam, in real-life situations in traffic they are insufficiently prepared, meaning that parents should take cycling trips together with their children whenever possible.
Accident prevention starts with the youngest children
„Since 2002, the number of fatal child accidents has declined by almost half. This illustrates the outstanding success that is possible through targeted prevention work," explains KommR Renate Römer, Chairlady of AUVA. It is of particular importance that young children are aware of the dangers of daily life and are playfully sensitised according to their age and ability level. "Accident prevention starts with the youngest children. Conveying an awareness of safety to children means making them stronger! This is the most effective means of prevention because when we learn to have a good awareness of safety as children, we will have this awareness for the rest of our lives," concludes Römer.
„When we know where, to whom and why accidents happen, we can take countermeasures," Thann explains the concept behind the year's key focus on children. In 2014, every month is dedicated to a special key focus topic in which intensive education work is carried out on risks and safety measures.