Accident Prone

New Zealand and Japan have launched campaigns to reduce the nations' high rates of fatal accidents among preschoolers. Although the infant mortality rates are relatively low in both nations, they rank at or near the top among industrial countries for fatal accidents -- at home and on the roads -- among children up to age 4. Public agencies are promoting the use of, or enforcing regulations on car seats, bike helmets, home safety education and pool fencing to lower the accident rates.

Fatal accidents

Per 100,000 children up to 1 year old

Norway 3.4

Sweden 5.9

Netherlands 6.6

Britain 7.1

Australia 9.0

Austria 10.8

Germany 11.2

Switzerland 12.1

Italy 13.9

Canada 15.2

Greece 19.3

U.S. 20.1

France 21.8

Japan 25.8

New Zealand 40.8

Per 100,000 children up to 4 years old

Sweden 5.6

Britain 5.6

Italy 6.3

Netherlands 6.6

Norway 7.4

Germany 9.3

France 10.2

Canada 10.3

Greece 11.7

Japan 11.7

Austria 12.2

Switzerland 13.2

Australia 14.6

U.S. 15.9

New Zealand 21.6

In New Zealand, a new survey by the Land Transport Safety Authority has found that 25% of children are not restrained or inadequately restrained when riding in cars, despite laws requiring such restraints. Drownings in pools also account for many deaths, and the New Zealand Water Safety Council says many pool owners fail to comply with fencing regulations.

In Japan, many deaths occur in homes, particularly drownings in tubs, which are often sunk into the floor, and water is kept in them for long periods for conservation purposes. Car seats and bike helmets are not widely used.

Note: Based on World Health Organization data for 1995, the latest year for which comparative statistics are available.

SOURCES: Associated Press, Japan Public Health Institute, New Zealand Ministry of Health, World Health Organization