Dr Asif Channer
THE World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) is commemorated internationally on the third Sunday of November each year to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families, friends and many others who are also affected. This year the day is being recalled on 19th November. The road deaths and injuries are sudden, violent, traumatic events, the impact of which is long-lasting, often permanent. Each year, millions of newly injured and bereaved people from every corner of the world are added to the countless millions already suffering as the result of a road crash.
This special Remembrance Day is intended to respond to the great need of road crash victims for public recognition of their loss and suffering. It is important because of the facts that it attracts attention of people and represents an initiative and a call to country for implementation of national programs, it connects and unites victims of road traffic accidents around the world, it communicates to society that the consequences of accidents are unacceptable. The lack of information about road traffic victims creates indifference among people, remembrance and public discussion about road traffic victims creates a common prevention in this field and because silence is a collective denial of the truth. According to World Health Organization 1, 24 million people are killed on the world’s roads annually. This means at least 3,390 deaths daily. About 50 million people are injured in road crashes and 5 million of them become permanently disabled. Only 28 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding and failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.
The United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) have set a global goal of reducing the number of deaths and injuries in road traffic by signing the “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 – 2020” Declaration, endorsed by Governments, UN agencies, multilateral institutions and NGOs. The latter brings a commitment of personal responsibility to all who can in any way contribute to road safety. The pillars for the road side accidents as erected by the World Health Organization (WHO) include the road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, and the safer users. The road safety management improves safety-conscious planning, design, construction and operation of roads. It also assesses regularly safety of roads and explores various forms of transport and safe infrastructure. The safer roads and mobility harmonize global standards, implement new car assessment programs, equip all new cars with minimum safety features, and promote use of crash avoidance technologies. Moreover, they encourage managers of fleets to purchase, operate and maintain safe vehicles
Road traffic injuries remain a global public health hazard. The death toll is highest in developing countries despite low motorization where more than 90% of fatalities occur. Globally, it is the leading cause of death for people aged 15–29 years. Wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of death among front-seat passengers by 40-65% and among rear-seat occupants by 25-75%. Wearing a good quality motorcycle helmet can reduce the risk of death by ±40% and severe head injury by + 70%.Infant seats, child seats and booster seats can reduce death of infants by ±70% and death of small children by between 54%–80% in the event of a crash Urban speed limits should not exceed 50 km/h and local authorities should be able to reduce speeds, where necessary.
The higher the speed of a vehicle, the shorter the time a driver has to stop and avoid a crash. A car travelling at 50 km/h will typically require 13 meters in which to stop, while a car travelling at 40 km/h will stop in less than 8.5 meters. An average increase in speed of 1 km/h is associated with a 3% higher risk of a crash involving an injury. Killed rises by a factor of 8 as the impact speed of the car increases from 30 km/h to 50 km/h.
Alcohol consumption by drivers not only affects them badly but also puts pedestrians and riders of motorized two-wheelers at risk. The risk of a road crash when a driver is alcohol-impaired varies with age. Teenagers are significantly more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than older drivers. Non-helmeted users of motorized two-wheelers are three times more likely to sustain head injuries in a crash compared to those wearing helmets. Every member of the society should contribute to learn road safety behaviour and ensure its reinforcement in daily life. Let’s pray: A Day of Peace = A Day Without Road Crashes.
— The writer is DEO Rescue 1122 Bahawalpur.
Dr Asif Channer