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Inj Prev. 2007 April; 13(2): 85–87.
PMCID: PMC2610595

NEWS AND NOTES

UNITED NATIONS GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY WEEK

The first United Nations global road safety week will be modelled on previous road safety weeks orchestrated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and World Health Day 2004. The theme for the week will be “young road users”—as young people constitute a major group at risk of death, injury and disability on the road. Though the focus is on young road users, it is hoped that the actions resulting from the week will benefit road users of all ages. During the course of the week which will be held from 23 to 29 April 2007, it is envisioned that a large number of local, national and international events will be hosted all over the world. Many partners will participate in these events including governments, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The main objectives of this first United Nations global road safety week 2007 are to raise awareness about the societal impact of road traffic injuries, highlighting the risks for young road users; and promote action around key factors which have a major impact on preventing road traffic injuries: helmets, seat-belts, drunk driving, speeding and infrastructure. The slogan for the week, “Road Safety is No Accident”, highlights the fact that road safety happens not by accident, but through the deliberate efforts on the part of many individuals and many sectors of society — governmental and non-governmental alike. The week's website is http://tinyurl.com/2g54d8. Resources for the week and further information about the UN's road safety collaboration can also be accessed through this site.

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Helmets: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners

Many countries around the world are facing the problem of a rapidly rising number of people injured or killed while riding two-wheelers—motorcycles and bicycles. A large proportion of the deaths and severe injuries result from injuries to the head. Helmets are effective in reducing the likelihood of head injuries, and their severity. Increasing the use of helmets in a country is thus an important way of improving road safety. This World Health Organization (WHO) manual provides practical advice to road safety practitioners on how to achieve a much higher proportion of users of two-wheeled vehicles wearing helmets. It follows on from the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, which described evidence that setting and enforcing mandatory helmet use is an effective intervention in reducing injuries and fatalities among two-wheeler users. The manual is one of a series of documents produce by an informal consortium (WHO, the Global Road Safety Partnership, the World Bank, and the Federation Internationale de L'automobile (FIA) Foundation for the Automobile and Society) that aims to provide guidance to countries on how to implement some of the recommendations identified within the world report, and thus improve their overall road safety record. The manual is for use in countries that want to improve the rates of helmets use among users of two-wheelers, locally or at the national level. It is targeted at governments, non-governmental organizations and road safety practitioners. Along with providing the necessary background evidence that will be useful to anyone starting a helmet usage program, it provides technical advice on the steps needed to assess the helmet situation in a country, on how to design and implement a helmet-use program in response to such an assessment, and on the need to evaluate the program so that the impact of what has been implemented can be assessed, and so that the program can be improved accordingly. The manual can be downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/3ymymv.

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Helmet action plan workshops—Laos and Vietnam

The global road safety partnership (GRSP) in association with the Laos Peoples Democratic Republic (PDR), Ministry of Communication, Transport, Post and Construction (MCTPC) and Handicap International Belgium (HIB) hosted the workshop attended by 55 participants at the Napakuang Resort in Thalat, Vientiane Province, Laos, in November 2006. A situation study undertaken to identify the main issues apparent in Laos highlighted the severity of the trauma problem for motorcycle riders who did not wear helmets. Problems with helmet law enforcement and lack of helmet standards were identified as serious issues that need to be addressed. The workshop was considered to be very successful due to strong and active participation by many government agencies and private sector representatives. An action plan is being drafted based on the workshop conclusions and will be reviewed by Government officials before its launched in early 2007. To read more about the workshop and action plan visit http://tinyurl.com/2cz4ln. A second workshop hosted by GRSP in association with the National Traffic Safety Committee of Vietnam (NTSC), French Red Cross (FRC) and Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF) took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, in December 2006. The two-day workshop attracted strong interest, bringing together some 75 participants from government ministries including representatives from 10 provincial traffic safety departments, non-governmental orgaizations (NGOs) and the private sector. A study conducted before the workshop found that helmet-wearing rates differed markedly in parts of the country owing to different levels of enforcement and promotion. For example, on roads around Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, riders are required to wear helmets and wearing rates can be as high as 70–80%, especially for commuters. Generally, however, wearing levels are very low on other roads and especially in rural areas. Another issue identified is a continuing rapid increase in the number of motorcycles in use on roads in Vietnam. To read more about the workshops and action plan visit http://tinyurl.com/2gwyys.

European Commission fact sheet on product safety

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection (DG SANCO) has published a fact sheet on product safety. With the aim of ensuring the safety of products for all citizens of the European Union, the publication provides the context and need for European action on product safety and gives an overview of EU actions in this area along with concrete examples. The fact sheet can be downloaded at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/publications/prosafety_en.pdf.

Smarter children, safer adults

Smarter children may end up being safer adults, according to a long-term study comparing childhood intelligence with adult injury rates. Children from the study who scored lower on intelligence tests at ages 7, 9 and 11 were more likely than their peers to be hospitalized for an accidental injury as adults, say Dr Debbie Lawlor et al (published in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health 2007,97:291–7) of the University of Bristol in England. The study was published in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationship between childhood intelligence and risk of nonfatal injury in adulthood” Lawlor and colleagues say. The finding could help explain why people who score low on intelligence tests in childhood are more likely than those with average or above-average scores to die young, they add. The researchers studied 11 282 people in Scotland who were part of a large childhood development study in the 1950s and 1960s. Lawlor and colleagues found that early intelligence scores and the risk of later injury were linked even after accounting for other factors such as the child's socioeconomic background and his or her physical growth. The more educated a person, the weaker the link between childhood intelligence and adult injury, the researchers found. “This might mean that improvements in education could result in lower injury rates in adulthood,” Lawlor said. However, education seemed to have the biggest protective effect on those who had a childhood IQ score of >100 , she added. Of those who were studied, 1043 people had been admitted to the hospital at least once with an accidental injury as adults. Men were more likely to have had an injury requiring hospitalization than women. People with lower childhood intelligence scores were also more likely to be hospitalized multiple times for adult injuries. The researchers say there are several reasons why childhood intelligence and adult injury might be linked. First of all, children with lower intelligence are also more likely to have injuries while young. If these injuries involve the head, they may make the children more prone to accidents as adults.

New ANEC leaflet on consumer safety

A new leaflet from ANEC, Are household appliances really safe for all consumers? explains the issue of the exclusion clause in many standards for electrical products that reduces safety for some groups of users, including children and disabled people. It tries to raise awareness among organizations for consumers including people with disabilities to lobby their national standards bodies to support ANEC's view that products should, within limits, be safe for all users. An electronic copy of the leaflet can be downloaded from http://www.anec.org/attachments/Exclusion%20clause%20leaflet.pdf.

Revised domain name for ANEC

ANEC, the European consumer voice in standardisation, has changed its website to http://www.anec.eu.

Agritourism: health and safety guidelines for children

Agritourism allows farmers to supplement their income while providing the public with fresh food, enjoyment and education. But the petting zoos, corn mazes and U-pick fields that attract children and their families pose health and safety considerations. Agritourism: health and safety guidelines for children is a new, user-friendly resource written for agritourism operators large and small; and for long-term operations as well as farmers who might host a one-time event. The full-color, 37-page guidelines booklet was published by the National Children's Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, a program of the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Wisconsin USA. The project was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The guidelines are the first to be developed applying specifically to children. They were developed over a 14-month period with input from two dozen agricultural health and safety professionals and agritourism operators across the US. The booklet includes tips on identifying and reducing hazards found on farms, such as those involving animals, water, machinery and hygiene. Convenient checklists help owners implement recommendations before visits by agritourists. The guidelines are available at http://www.marshfieldclinic.org/agritourism.

CEN BT decides to tackle internet safety

During the December 2006 meeting in Stockholm, the Technical Board of Comite Europeen de Normalisation (CEN), the European standards body, decided to establish a working group, BT WG 194, to define the scope of one or more potential CEN deliverables on the internet filtering software. This BT decision follows ANEC's proposal for standards for the internet filters. A previous ANEC study (carried out by Intertek, London, UK) investigated to what extent unsolicited commercial communication (spam) and the internet content filters to protect children online should be testable and comparable in order to help consumers with their choice. The study report identified performance standards as being the most helpful way of ensuring product transparency and helping with consumers' choice.

European standard for Braille on medicinal packaging

The newsletter of the European Blind Union reports on an initiative from representatives of the medicinal packaging industry, a working group, namely the establishment of a European technical committee to develop standards for Braille on medicinal packaging. The rationale for this standard is that, on one hand, there is a desire to find processes through which Braille can be embossed or otherwise placed on the medicinal boxes and containers during the process when the packages are printed, coated and labelled, and on the other hand, the standards are meant to be a way to ensure that whatever size and height Braille may be, it can be measured and quality-assured through concerted measurement methods. This means making exact and methodologically convincing measurements to ensure that the braille has the exact specified dimensions, and also developing methods to ensure that Braille markings are as distinct and crisp as possible. Research on this topic has been entrusted to a team from the University of Birmingham with support from the UK's Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Mobility award to Austrian project

The second Vulnerable Road User Organisations in Cooperation across Europe (VOICE) mobility award goes to the partners of the Austrian mobility management for schools project. By improving road safety around schools, the campaign has aimed at reducing car traffic levels and encouraging more children to walk or cycle to school. The successful pilot project run in the city of Graz Austria, has led to a nationwide campaign involving 50 schools. The final objective is to have every school in the country join the mobility program. VOICE, is an NGO network ensuring that the neglected voice of vulnerable road users is heard in the transport debate. For more information about VOICE, visit http://etsc.be/Voice.php.

Contributors to these News and Notes include Ian Scott, Anara Guard, Joseph Colella, Peter Jacobsen, Deborah Girasek, Susan Gallagher, and Barry Pless. Michael Hayes has edited the contributions. Items for future issues, including calendar entries, should be sent to Michael Hayes at the Child Accident Prevention Trust 22–26 Farringdon Lane, London EC1R 3AJ, UK; fax: +44(0) 20 7608 3674, email: mike.hayes@capt.org.uk as soon as possible.


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