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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Road Safety Awareness and Practices Among School Children of Chandigarh

Author(s): H.M. Swami, S. Puri, V. Bhatia<

Vol. 31, No. 3 (2006-07 - 2006-09)

H.M. Swami, S. Puri, V. Bhatia

Introduction

It has been estimated that 1 million deaths and 15 million RSA (Road Side Accidents) occur on roads worldwide every year. Globally, RSA is 10th and in SEAR, 7th leading cause of death in all age groups1. According to WHO estimates, RSA is the 9th leading cause of death as per on the basis of DALY. However, this is likely to reach at no. 3 by 20202. It was estimated that over 75% of RSA occur in the so called developing countries, even though these countries account for only 32% of total motor vehicle fleet, which involves 65% of pedestrians and 35% of school children3. Child pedestrian injury, an important cause of morbidity and mortality remains one of the leading causes of death in developed and developing countries. Each year in US approximately 850 children under the age of 15 years are killed and another 30,000 are injured in pedestrian collisions4. During last decades injuries due to RSA have risen by 300% in Asian and African countries in contrast to 30-40% in developed countries. There is limited literature available regarding accident related behaviour in developing countries. The chances of RSA can be averted to a large extent, if school children who are going to be adults of tomorrow are made aware of road safety measures. Hence present study was focussed on school children to study knowledge of various risk factors pertaining to road side accidents and their practices.

Material and Methods

The Union Territory of Chandigarh is one of the modern cities in India with an area of 114 sq. Km with population of about 1 million and a high literacy rate of 81.6%. City is well known for modern architecture, medical and educational infrastructure. Large number of young people come to the city for pursuing education from neighboring and far states such as North Eastern State. UT of Chandigarh has about 185 schools in Govt. and Private sector. More than 100 schools are up to level of high and secondary level, having about 30000 children enrolled in classes between 9th –12th.

In this study, 8 schools (4 Govt. and 4 Private) were chosen randomly. Total number of students studying in these classes were approximately 5000. 4 classes from each school were covered. Systemic random sampling method was used. Every 2nd child was enrolled for the study. Hence on an average 90-100 students were taken from each school. The total number of students who were covered were 972. Of the total students, those who were excluded from the study were those who didn’t give complete information (6.1%, 60) and those not having any vehicles (12.8%,125). Hence the sample comprised of 787 students (479 males and 308 females) studying in these classes. Information regarding knowledge about accidents, use of vehicles, traffic safety, various risk factors and their practices was recorded on predesigned format.

Information was collected by trained team of doctors and social workers in school premises after taking consent from the Principals and students.

Results and Discussion

Forty percent of students lacked correct knowledge of traffic safety rules. In particular, knowledge of correct speed limit was lacking in 67.3% of the respondents. Girls were more aware of traffic rules to be followed at traffic lights (63%) and while crossing zebra lines (41.2%), Whereas boys were more versed with rules for pedestrians (49.8%). Around 60% of school children had correct knowledge of risk factors. The awareness was almost same in both government and private Schools as well as in males and female students. (Table-I)

Table I: Knowledge of School Children Regarding Traffic Safety

  Male
(n=479)
Female
(n=308)
Total
(n=787)
Correct Knowledge of Traffic Safety Rules No. % No. % No. %
Rule to be followed at traffic lights 267 55.7 197 63.0 464 59.0
Crossing zebra lines 181 37.7 127 41.2 308 39.5
Rule for pedestrians 239 49.8 81 26.2 320 40.6
Legal age at driving:
Without gears 259 54.0 144 46.7 403 51.2
With gears 272 56.7 146 47.0 418 53.1
Speed limits in city:
Main road 191 39.8 67 21.7 258 32.7
Is It a Risk:
Driving without Helmet 283 59.1 218 70.8 491 62.4
Driving at night without headlight 285 59.4 183 59.4 468 59.5
Not wearing seatbelts in car 284 59.3 181 58.8 465 59.1

Table II – Traffic Rule Violations By School Children

Caught for Violating Traffic Rules Male
(n=479)
Female
(n=308)
Total
(n=787)
No. % No. % No. %
Without Helmet 108 22.5 42 13.6 450 57.1
Without valid document 60 12.5 40 13.0 100 l2.7
Without license 124 26.0 57 18.5 171 21.7
Using mobile while driving 115 24.0 58 18.$ 173 22.0
Over Speeding 200 41.8 28 9.09 228 29.0
Crossing wrong signal 171 35.7 52 16.9 222 28.2
Drunk with Alcohol 65 13.5 65 8.3

Results of this study were similar to that done in other countries. In a study done in Bangladesh5, 62% of road traffic accidents were accounted by pedestrian casualties. 62% of students agreed that risk factors that expose one to accidents are driving without helmet, driving at night without headlights (59.5%) and not wearing seatbelts (59.1%).

Bicycle, motorcycle/scooter and car were being driven mostly by 62%(488), 18.5% (146) and 1.7%(14) of school children respectively. Use of motorcycle/scooter (23.7%) and car (2.5%) was higher in private schools as compared to government schools (11.1 % and 0.6% respectively). Some, 13.3% of children started driving under the age of 10 years and females (17.9%) outnumbering males (10.4%) at this age. However, 57.3% of the students started driving after 12 yrs of age. Driving at such a young age, hence putting their lives and also others life in danger, is ofcourse the result of laxity on the part of parents.

More than half (57.1%) of students informed that they were caught for not wearing helmets, and equal number of males and females (12.7%) for not having valid documents. Around one fourth (26%) of males were caught without license as compared to 18.5% girls This practice was more in private school children. Students who were in habit of using mobile phones while driving were 22%, over speeding was done by 29% and 8.3% of them consumed alcohol while drinking. Male students were doing more traffic rule violations as compared to girls (Table – II). Half ( 52.4%) of subjects agreed that girls should wear helmets; 77.7% of them agreed that boys keep helmets on their arms to impress girls, 25.7% did not like wearing them and 4.95% gave some medical reasons for not wearing.

Several reports from developed countries show that rates of fatal and non fatal injuries from motor vehicle crashes is on the increase owing to non usage of helmets and seat belts. Daniel observed in his study that the relative risk of death among helmet riders as compared to unhelmeted riders was 0.616. Hence many interventions were done and evaluated. Evaluation of interventions is an important aspect of injury prevention like bicycle helmet use increased following demonstration of the impact of helmets on brain injury7.

Involvement of motorised 2 wheelers, bicyclists in RSA is greater in South East Asia than any other part of world. Some of the major reasons are driving at an early age, heavy mix of motorised and unmotorised vehicles, inadequate vehicle safety standards, neglect of bicyclists safety, absence of safety measures like helmets, seat belts, the rage of drinking and driving, and least adherence to traffic rules. These reasons were witnessed in our study also.

Death of any school child in a road traffic accident while driving a vehicle is a serious issue. But this is certainly preventable. Basically four stakeholders are involved – parents, students, teachers and traffic police. Parents should not let their children drive at an early age. Students should refrain themselves from traffic rule violations. School teachers should inculcate traffi safety among students and enforce traffic rules within school premises. Law enforcement agencies like traffic police, license issuing authorities must also be stringent. Young traffic violators and their guardians should be appropriately punished. They should also ensure that the community is aware of road safety signs which will help in reducing existing high accident rate, prevalent in developing countries as India.

References

  1. Global Road Safety Partnership 2000, GRSP News and Brochure (Ist Edition), Geneva, Jan-2000
  2. Murray CJL and Lopez AD. The global burden of diseases-A correspondence assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, Injuries and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 1996.
  3. Hoque M.M, Mac D M and Hall R D. Road Safety Improvement In Developing Countries: Priority Issues and Options, Proceedings of 20th Australian Road Research Board Conference 2004.
  4. Alison M and Ian R. Children Exposure to Traffic and Pedestrian Injuries: American J Of Public Health 1998; 12:88-92
  5. Didarul A M and Mazharuloque M. Pedestrian Accident in Metropolitan Dhaka, Presented in “SAFE”, 2nd Asian Regional Conference on safe communities in Bangladesh 2004.
  6. Daniel C. N and Peter C. Association of Helmet use with death in Motorcycle crashes-A matched pair cohort study: American J of Epidemiology 2002;156:483-87
  7. Lynda D and Sue B. Evaluation of Interventions designed to prevent and Control Injuries Epidemiologic Reviews 2003;25:51-59 Deptt. of Community Medicine, GMCH, Chandigarh
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