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Road crashes biggest killer of children

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Road crashes kill more Australian children than any other single cause, the Minister for Transport and Communications Support, Peter Morris, said today.

Mr Morris was releasing the Federal Office of Road Safety's "Road Crash Statistics Australia" report for June.

"Almost half the children aged up to 16-years killed or injured in road crashes are vehicle passengers," Mr Morris said.

"Injuries are often severe because of the childrens' size and development. However, by using an approved child restraint, the risks to a child in a vehicle are substantially reduced.

Mr Morris said the Federal Government has introduced a number of initiatives to encourage child restraint use and better road safety skills for children in general, including the "Out and

About" campaign aimed at primary school-aged children, teachers and parents; the printing of a brochure providing advice to parents; and the distribution of a NSW manual covering restraint fitting problems to all other States and the Territories.

Work is currently in hand to ensure that non-English speaking families have access to this life-saving information.

" Child restraints are now available on loan in all cities and major regional centres in Australia," Mr Morris said.

"In three States — New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia — child restraints are now compulsory for all children under 12 months of age.

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"As children become older, child restraints are used less frequently, especially in the 4-7 years age group," Mr Morris said.

"A crash with a telegraph pole or a parked car at 40 km/h is like dropping your child from a two-storey building onto concrete. The forces involved are so great that the loving arms of an adult offer no protection.

"Losing a child in a road crash is tragic. However, when it is considered that the loss could have been avoided, the tragedy is all the more pronounced."

The Road Crash Statistics Australia for June showed a decrease of 44 in the number of Australians killed, a fall of 11.8 per cent compared with June last year. This brings the total number of people killed this year to 1359. This is an increase of 3.3 per cent over the same period last year.