10 October 2008With 28,000 people dying in traffic accidents in Iran every year, one of the highest rates worldwide at 20 times the global average, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched an awareness-raising campaign on road safety focusing on youngsters. With 28,000 people dying in traffic accidents in Iran every year, one of the highest rates worldwide at 20 times the global average, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched an awareness-raising campaign on road safety focusing on youngsters. Nearly 2,700 children under the age of 15 died in traffic accidents in 2006, and almost 95,000 others under the age of 20 were injured by traffic accidents.“These figures are frightening, and a response to this dire situation will need a coherent and concerted effort by governmental institutions as well as civil society,” UNICEF Representative Christian Salazar told a news conference held in connection with Iran’s Children’s Day on 8 October. “For this reason, we are particularly pleased that a coalition of Iranian authorities and institutions has joined UNICEF in its awareness-raising initiative,” he said.A call for safer behaviour on Iran’s roads and increased awareness for the security of children in traffic was the main theme for this year’s Children’s Day celebrations and UNICEF stressed that international experience shows that children and youth can play a key role in city planning and safety assessment projects.They can also become empowered to take over the role of spokesperson for excellent traffic behaviour, reminding parents and caregivers to take responsible and concrete steps that help save lives in day-to-day traffic.Basic positive traffic behaviours outlined by UNICEF include reducing speed, a main factor contributing to road traffic injuries, particularly in areas where children are likely to cross roads, such as near kindergartens or schools. The agency also suggested ensuring children always sit on back seats and wear seat belts; using child restraints, such as infant and child seats; and enforcing helmet use for motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles.UNICEF noted that seat belts can reduce the risk of all injuries by 40 to 50 per cent and of fatal injuries by 40 to 60 per cent, child restraints reduce death rates by 71 per cent among infants and by 54 per cent among young children, and motorcycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk and severity of head injury by about 70 per cent.