Today, May 5th, is Children’s Day in Korea. Regarding children in traffic, they are probably the weakest traffic participants and most vulnerable to fatal traffic accidents.
Korea achieved improvements in the number of traffic fatalities of minors in the last decade. In numbers, there was a 95% reduction of traffic-related child fatalities. The problem was mainly tackled by infrastructure improvements. For example, school zones with lower driving speed and fences between sidewalk and street have been introduced. But sadly, the average of traffic fatalities of children under 14 is still at 1.3 per 100,000 citizen (in 2012). The OECD average is 1.1 per 100,000. So there is still improvement
A couple of days ago a new idea by a Korean NGO made its round through the Korean Internet. People and news articles praised it as a great concept because it improves the visibility of children at pedestrian crossings. The measure proposes to paint the area in front of the pedestrian crossing bright yellow and at night a strong street lamp should lighten up the area. It’s called “Yellow Carpet (옐로카펫) and here is a video of that idea:
My first thought was: The idea resembles Volvo’s life spray! It is a spray for bicyclists which reflects car headlights or any kind of light. Here is the explanation (=advertisement) by Volvo:
Both ideas have in common that they try to increase traffic safety by searching for solutions in the weaker traffic participants (children/cyclist). Actually, it’s the wrong way of thinking about traffic safety. In the article “Don’t make bicyclists more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them.” the problem is well explained. A short summary:
- infrastructure is adjusted to cars
- pedestrians are just guests, e.g. allowed to cross roads in designated areas
- nowadays people move back from the suburbs to urban cores to enjoy the urban amenities
- car lobby tries to take the fun out of cycling through mandatory bicycle helmet laws
- newest idea is a spray, which increases the visibility of cyclists
The writing style of that article is very provocative. The issue of visibility is a known fact. Bicycles are often overseen. The vehicles are small and quiet. Nevertheless, the responsibility of traffic accidents lies more often in the people who drive cars. Instead of spraying ourselves of standing on a yellow-painted area, the driving speed should be lowered, pedestrian crossings should be elevated and the roads as narrow as possible (the list goes on, many good examples had Max: part 1 and 2). Road behavior education is an important issue as well. Children receive education in school but what about adults? Well-developed safety campaigns should aim at different age groups to promote more regard for weak traffic participants on the streets. People in cars should watch carefully for pedestrians while approaching pedestrian crossings, not the other way around.
The conclusion is: Don’t make children more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them. Happy Children Day!