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Child motor vehicle occupant and pedestrian casualties before and after enactment of Child Restraint Seats Legislation in Japan

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Problem. Prevention of injuries to child passengers is a significant public health priority, as motor vehicle-related injuries remain a leading cause of death for children in Japan. The purpose of compulsory child restraint seats legislation in April 2000 was to reduce the number of child passengers killed or injured in motor vehicle crashes. Methods. The objectives of this preliminary evaluation are to measure the effectiveness, benefits and usage of safety seats for child passengers aged 1-5 years by analysing the child casualty data for the period of 1997-2002. Population and vehicle miles travelled based injury and fatality rates were used to compare before and after legislation trends in child casualties. Results. Despite overall increases in the use of child restraint seats (as observed by different national surveys), overall casualty rates in motor vehicle occupants in the 1-5 year age group did not change (fatalities and serious injuries) or even increased (minor injuries). Conclusions. Casualties among restrained children have not decreased since the law came to effect in the year 2000, perhaps because of incorrect usage of the seats. Given that exposure to crash environments is increasing, traffic safety advocates and public health community need to be aware of the importance of child restraints as a means of reducing the likelihood of injury. It is necessary to implement effective community-based child safety seat campaigns to disseminate the information on appropriate restraint use and to increase efforts to enforce the existing legislation.

Keywords: Child restraint seats; crash exposure; education; enforcement; motor vehicle occupant casualties; pedestrian casualties; vehicle miles travelled

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology University of British Columbia Vancouver BC Canada 2: Institute of Social Sciences University of Tsukuba Ibraki Japan 3: Department of Pediatrics, BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, Centre for Community and Child Health Research University of British Columbia Vancouver BC Canada

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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