PRESS RELEASE: New report reveals the extent of fatal road crashes and the dangers children face every day on the streets of Lebanon

Tuesday 9 July 2019

PRESS RELEASE: New report reveals the extent of fatal road crashes and the dangers children face every day on the streets of Lebanon

Children between 0-5 years are most at risk of dying as a result of a road crash, as revealed by Save the Children’s latest study.

Beirut, Lebanon – A new study, set to be released on 9 July, has revealed that child commuters and pedestrians face life-threatening risks on the roads of Lebanon. More than 1,000 children are killed or injured as road users every year in Lebanon.

The report, Determining the Causes of Child Road Deaths and Injuries in Lebanon, reveals the results of research commissioned by Save the Children and undertaken by the American University of Beirut with support from the FIA Foundation. The study reviewed patient records from 30 hospital emergency departments across Lebanon to analyse injuries and deaths sustained by children as a result of road traffic incidents from 2015 to 2017. The research team also reviewed case records from Internal Security Forces – in total, examining over 3,300 cases.

Using previously-unexamined data, the research found that children between 0-5 years of age face the biggest risk of dying as a result of a road crash, with 13.9% suffering fatal injuries. A majority of deaths (54%) took place on two-way roads that are not divided by a physical barrier.

Allison Zelkowitz, Save the Children Lebanon’s Country Director, said, “This report underscores the gravity of a longstanding problem. Lebanon’s roads are not safe for adults, and now we know that they are equally dangerous for children. We now have the data to show this.

“Children are most vulnerable when they are walking on the streets, because without proper sidewalks or barriers, they can be hit by fast-moving cars. They are also more likely to be injured or even die when they are being transported in cars, particularly when they are not buckled safely into car seats, or wearing seat belts.”

The full results of the report will be released at a special event organised by Save the Children at Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun on Tuesday, 9 July. Experts on traffic and road safety will offer their insights into how Lebanon’s long struggle with unsafe roads can be tackled.

Dr Samar Al-Hajj, Assistant Research Professor at AUB Faculty of Health Sciences and lead researcher for the project said, “It was particularly shocking to find that there were 140 cases of children driving 4-wheel vehicles and more than 300 others driving motorbikes when they sustained injuries – despite the fact that no children are legally permitted to drive in Lebanon.  Tragically, 43 of these children died while driving.

“As the study recommends, road safety laws in Lebanon must be enforced, especially when the lives of our children are at stake.”

The report also urges the Government of Lebanon to improve transport infrastructure and ensure adherence to public road safety regulations. The report further invites public institutions and development agencies to adopt evidence-based approaches to social change, aimed at encouraging safe behaviour among pedestrians and drivers alike.

Full event programme and invite to follow. 



Note to editors:

-       The research team collected 3,317 cases of children who sustained road injuries, including those resulting in death, during the period between January 2015 and December 2017. These cases were retrieved from the Emergency Department patient records of 30 selected hospitals along with data retrieved from police crash reports. After removing 47 duplicate cases, the remaining number was 3,270 cases of children (0-17) with road injuries or deaths.

-       Across all ages and nationalities, most of the child road injury cases were males. Approximately 72% of the total number of children were boys and 28% were girls. The mean age was 11 (Standard Deviation ±5). As for nationalities, 66.6% of the cases were Lebanese, 27.9% were Syrian and 2.5% were Palestinian. The gender distribution was uniform across all nationalities.

-       Save the Children is running a Road Safety Pilot project which seeks to improve the safety of children in their surroundings, including while commuting/walking to and from school. The organisation also works with ministries and partners to raise awareness on the issue with an ultimate aim to reduce road injuries among children.