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TRAFFIC

Poorer children in more traffic accidents: report

Traffic safety is a class issue in Sweden, as working class children are far more likely to be injured in traffic than their middle class friends, according to a study from Stockholm's Karolinska Institute.

Poorer children in more traffic accidents: report

“All parents want to protect their children, but not all have the same possibilities to do so,” Marie Hasselberg, scientist at Karolinska Institute’s department of public health sciences, told news agency TT.

The children of working class parents are 30 percent more likely to be injured in bicycle or pedestrian accidents, when compared to middle class children.

When these children then grow up and begin driving motorcycles and cars, the difference grows to 70 percent.

A team of researchers, including Marie Hasselberg, have been studying traffic accidents among children from a class perspective, and were struck by the large differences.

The original study was made in 2004, and Hasselberg is now planning to investigate whether the differences remain.

One major factor which determines traffic safety is naturally the family’s economic situation. Helmets, car seats for children, and such all cost money.

Another factor appears to be how, and how much, the children are exposed to traffic.

“What’s the surrounding environment for the child like? Does anyone walk them to school? If you’re working shifts, that might be tricky to arrange,” said Hasselberg.

According to her, differences in Swedish families’ socioeconomic status needn’t make such a impact on accident statistics, pointing out some changes which could even out this impact.

“We have to create places for playing, and safe paths to schools. In the meantime, there are other simple measures, such as a walking school bus.”

The walking school bus is already in practice on several spots around Sweden. The adults simply take turns picking up the children at a given spot, and walking with them to school.

Hasselberg also calls for vehicle tests to include checking whether the child safety seat is properly assembled.

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LIGHTNING

IN PICTURES: Thunderstorms hit trains and roads in southern Sweden

Severe thunderstorms and heavy winds on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning have delayed trains and disrupted road traffic across southern Sweden, according to the Swedish Transport Administration.

IN PICTURES: Thunderstorms hit trains and roads in southern Sweden
A lightning bolt spreads out over the sea at the Scaniabadet swimming area in Malmö on Tuesday night. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
“There was a huge amount of lightening over night and this morning, and that knocked out the power systems,” Katarina Wolfram, a press spokesperson for the Agency told the DN newspaper. “On several stretches, barriers are down at level crossings even though there is no train coming.” 
 
Lightning strikes near the Turning Torso in Malmö's Western Harbour district. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
 
The routes between Hässleholm and Kalmar, Karlskrona and Kalmar, and Värnamo and Alvesta have all been affected.
 
Wolfram said it had been difficult to carry out repairs in the morning as there was still a risk of lightning strikes. 
 
“Lightning and working on electrical faults are not the best combination, so we are not sending out personnel to areas where there are still thunderstorms,” she said. 
 
The administration expects normal traffic to resume after midday. 
 
According to Sweden's state weather forecaster, parts of northern Skåne received as much as 24mm of rainfall on Tuesday night, while a photographer for the TT newswire took spectacular photos of forked lightning in the skies of Malmö.
 
The storm front is now moving north towards Östergötland in central Sweden. 
 
Lightning in the skies above Malmö on Tuesday night. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
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