Nice piece of research

I\’m sure this will be all over the papers today:

During their childhood one in every 27 children – fewer than the average class size – will be reported as killed or injured in a road accident, the report said.

There\’s nothing actually wrong with the report itself.

However, it\’s only when you get to the notes to the press release (and thus perhaps something that journos won\’t read) that you find one of the truly important facts:

However, children are still less likely to be injured on the roads than adults. The average annual casualty rate for the population as a whole is 1 in 231, although this varies around the country and will be subject of a further report in the coming months.

As the report and the press release tell us, the average for children is one in 427.

Nowhere is this put into context: the risk of death or injury in a road accident for children is roughly half that for the population as a whole (and even lower that that for children as opposed to that part of the population which is not children).

So, far from the way the newspaper piece has been written, that we\’re failing children dismally by failing to protect them from road accidents, we do seem to be doing a pretty good job of it actually.

Oh, and the other important point? Yes, this is all children injured in road accidents. Passengers in cars (40% of the total) included.

Now, as I say, there\’s nothing wrong with the research itself. Nothing wrong with the idea of the research either. But the art of successfully releasing research is to get the newspaper reports slanted your way….whatever way that happens to be. Which means writing up the press release, briefing the journos, the way you want them briefed (I\’ve no longer got access to the Press Association listing of stories so I can\’t check that this was the route but a quick call to the desk to find out who is writing up the story can do wonders in slanting the story your way).

\”One child in every class\” will be injured in a road accident is one way. \”Half as many children injured as adults\” is another. \”Risk lower for children\” a third.

Not having looked at any other other papers yet I don\’t know how they\’ve all run it….but I\’d be willing to offer very good odds that only version one of the story has been printed.

Even that wouldn\’t really be a problem except that it\’s likley to become on of those \”facts\” which everyone knows and Therefore Something Must Be Done….when in fact we already seem to be doing quite a lot.

To my surprise, this isn\’t actually from a fake charity. Rather, it\’s an advertisement for a (not for profit) company which analyses patterns of traffic accidents.

7 thoughts on “Nice piece of research”

  1. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    “one in every 27 children – fewer than the average class size”

    What exactly is that supposed to mean?

  2. I was in a primary school class of 45 – and one of us got killed in a childhood road accident. Which only goes to show.

  3. “one in every 27 children – fewer than the average class size”

    What exactly is that supposed to mean?

    Reduce class sizes and the problem goes away.

  4. If children drove – or it was compulsory for a child to be in a car for every car journey then the adult and child mortality rate could be directly comparable.

    Unless it is being suggested that children are so much more likely to be involved in accidents as pedestrians than adults that the lower number of miles or car journeys made by children is irrelevant.

  5. Are there not more adult years in which to have an accident than there are child years?

    I mean there are only 16is years of child accidents per capita, but about 60 years of adult accidents per capita.

    I’ll have to take a look.

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