Are children properly considered in the design of road networks?

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November 20, 2014 marked 25 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international treaty that recognizes the human rights of children (defined as persons up to the age of 18 years). The Convention is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history with 194 countries so far having become State Parties to the Convention.

In simple terms, the Convention establishes in international law that State Parties must ensure that all children benefit from special protection measures and assistance. The convention has some clear and direct ties to road safety specifically recognizing ‘the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care’.

Article 3 states: ‘In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration’ and ‘States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety’.

Article 19 states: ‘States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical injury’.

Article 24 states: ‘States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health’ and ‘States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that all segments of society are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and the prevention of accidents’.

Yet are children properly considered in the design of road networks? Regretably, the answer in far too many parts of the world, including in signatory countries, is a very clear ‘No’.

View the Convention here.

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