An international committment to decrease traffic accidents around the world is just beginning. As we thaw out this spring, and start to travel near and far with our kids, we are thankful for our many modern advances in traffic safety. Car seats, antilock brakes, crash zones, shoulder harnesses etc are available to families in most modern countries.
If you travel outside of the country, remember to take car seats for children, choose a driver carefully, avoid drunk , tired or distracted driving, wear seat belts and try to avoid travel at night. Consider that roads may not be well maintained, roads may not be well lit or may not have guard rails or may not have painted lines. Cars may not be regularly inspected, signage may be in another language, law enforcement may be sporatic, local laws may be different than what we are used to. Cars manufactured for foreign markets may not be built to US safety standards.
Motor and pedal cycles are particularly dangerous in less well developed countries. Helmet laws may be absent or not enforced, roads may be crowded and in poor condition, and traffic patterns may be chaotic or just unfamiliar. Trauma hospitals are few and far between. EMS services may not be available. Children should not ever be carried on a motor cycle. Travel and evacuation insurance is a critical part of planning an international vacation.
Do not climb onto an overloaded bus or train, and don't allow children to play on train tracks.
Be safe and have a great summer.
For more information about the Decade of Action for Road Safety, log onto the World Health Organization website.
Nancy Bunker M.D.
Latham, New York
Pediatrics and Travel Medicine