Sweden follows a “no loss of life is acceptable” code with its “Vision Zero” program, which has resulted in a decrease of pedestrian deaths and overall traffic deaths. The U.S. initiated a similar program, “Road to Zero,” in 2016. Sweden’s death rate from car accidents was approximately 3 per 100,000 people in 2013, almost one-quarter the rate in the U.S. The United States could more thoroughly use Sweden as a model if it wishes to significantly reduce the death rate from car accidents.
Children and Car Seats
One area the U.S. could benefit from Sweden is with its car-seat regulations. Currently, parents and guardians are required to use front-facing car seats for their children from approximately two years old until their children outgrow them. This is a big deal for the United States, considering the recommendation was once until the age of one. However, in 2011, with the release of a policy statement on car safety, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advised that children ride in rear-facing car seats until at least the age of two.
In Sweden, conversely, children use rear-facing car seats until the age of four. After the age of four, the children transition to front-facing booster seats.
With rear-facing car seats in the United States, placing a two-year-old into the car seat can be cumbersome, especially if the child is resisting. An infant is one thing, but a two-year-old is considerably larger. Further, overall space can be an issue for the child.
Sweden and other parts of Europe do not experience this problem because their car seats allow more room for the child, employing a built-in bar that comes down from the car seat and then rests on the car floor.
Other Steps for Improved Safety
Another area that the United States could gain insight from Sweden is with its driving regulations and road and highway configurations. For example, instead of intersections, Sweden utilizes traffic circles. Furthermore, unlike the United States, Sweden separates cars from bicycles and oncoming traffic, and pedestrian bridges are a greater focus.
Finally, Sweden has stricter driving-under-the-influence and impaired driving policies, as well as reduced speed limits. Speed bumps are also more commonly-used in Sweden than in the U.S. These safety interventions have played a major part in the reduction of Sweden’s death rate for the past 20 years.
The Road to Zero Coalition
The National Safety Council (NSC) established a coalition of nearly 700 municipalities, organizations, advocacy groups, insurers, businesses and more, with the aim to end all traffic fatalities by 2050. The “Road to Zero” Coalition published a report, written by the non-profit RAND Corporation, outlining numerous ways this might be accomplished.
While we have made a start with Road to Zero, and now advise the use of rear-facing car seats, we will need to take greater strides to be on par with Sweden. This includes more research, regulatory change, and improved designs for cars and car seats to allow for more space for larger-sized children.
Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for You
If you or your loved ones were hurt in a car accident, you need the services of the experienced Delaware County car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Contact us by calling 215-569-8488 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. With offices across Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we serve clients from the surrounding areas.