Children at the forefront of accidents amid Covid-19

Although there was a notable reduction in injuries and fatalities involving children under 15 in 2020, crash statistics recorded by the MVA Fund indicate that children of this age group remain vulnerable road users.

23 February 2021 | Youth

Rivaldo Kavanga

The Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund says child road safety remains a priority during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The MVA Fund prioritises child road safety because of the commencement of the 2021 academic year, noting that it warrants support of basic road-safety education by road-safety partners, parents/guardians and schools to support a safe return to school for all children.

The Fund wants to address road-safety risks while also adhering to Covid-19 protocols as schools resume and return to a new normal. It plans to take centre stage in raising awareness initiatives at a national level. The current status quo and the coronavirus pandemic have led to unparalleled changes in the lives of the Namibian people and have placed other public health concerns such as road safety on the back burner.

Despite a decrease in injuries and fatalities involving children under the age of 15 in 2020, crash statistics recorded by the 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 last year, which is a reduction of 31% from the 550 recorded in 2019, while fatalities decreased by 24% from 85 to 65. Although there is a decrease, 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 to ensure the reduction of injuries and fatalities among schoolchildren.

“In line with the Accident and Injury Prevention and Public Education (AIP&PE) Strategy, the Fund recently approved school road-safety activation programmes to strengthen road-safety education and promote safe road user behaviour among school-going children. Among other things, the programme will support the implementation of speed-calming measures around schools, including the reduction of speed limits to 30 km/h,” says Mona-Liza Garises, the MVA Fund’s head of corporate communications.

Safer road-use programmes

Garises says the fund plans on incorporating a number of programmes such as the Safe Journey to School initiative, which would recommend shorter and safer routes to schools to ensure the safety of all school-going children, especially those walking or cycling to school.

The introduction or strengthening of scholar patrols will also be implemented as part of this initiative. The MVA Fund will look to engage schoolchildren through road-safety competitions, debates and dramas to increase their knowledge and awareness of road safety.

Currently, the Fund is running a back-to-school competition, where parents are requested to take videos of their children engaging in good road-safety practices. The social media competition ends on 26 February 2021.

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