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The Importance of Road Safety is International: Celebrating UN Global Road Safety Week

May 20, 2021 04:00PM ● By Lubaba Ali, Anand Subramanian, Kassidy Garland, Belinda Nzeribe, Candice Stewart
global road safety week

May 17th through May 23rd marks the 6th UN Global Road Safety Week. In celebration of the importance of this event, and in an effort to help raise awareness for the cause, FunTimes Magazine asked some of our writers to share their own experiences of road safety from their corners of the world. This is what they had to say:


The United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s safest countries, was able to achieve its lowest road fatalities in almost a decade. The rate of road traffic death decreased from 4.52 per 100,000 people in 2018 to 3.14 in 2020.

Speeding ranked among the top causes of road fatalities, which led the country to upgrade traffic control measures including strict speed restrictions. As a result, more than 8.7 million road users were fined in 2019 for speeding, an astoundingly large number that had a direct positive impact in decreasing the number of traffic deaths from 725 in 2016 to 448 in 2019. Furthermore, for the past five years, the UAE was ranked first in the World Economic Forum’s global index of road quality.

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, emphasized the importance of traffic control and explained: ‘The safety of people is the most important and it is always our top priority”.

- Lubaba Ali - Abu Dhabi 



We live in a world where transportation plays a vital role in world development. Road transportation has been the most preferred mode of transportation for goods and passenger transportation. Increased population leads to increased roadway projects which have helped the general public to travel the unknowns. This blessing comes with a fatal disguise as road accidents have increased to almost 90 percent. Developing countries like India have seen their fair share of road fatalities, where traffic collisions are the major source of death and injuries every year. In this article, we are addressing those fatalities in India, their cause, and some preventive methods that we can adopt to save lives and contribute to reducing fatalities.



Figure 1 - Statistics on Road Accidents and Deaths on Different Categories of NH by Traffic Rule Violations During 2019. Source - Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, India.


As we progress each year, road fatalities continue to be a major public health concern, being first in leading cause of death among children age 5-14 and adults age 15-29. Two-wheelers were involved in the most road fatalities, which were shown to be due to overspeeding, drunken driving, driving on the wrong side, or jumping the red light. These accidents have lead to a socio-economic cost of 147,114 Crore INR in 2018, equivalent to 0.77 percent of the nation's GDP.

According to the transport research wing of the Ministry of Road and Transport and Highways, around 449,002 accidents were reported across the states and union territories, killing 151,113 people. In comparison to 2018 statistics, the accidents have reduced by 3.86 percentage and the death rate has reduced by 0.20 percentage. This victorious decline is achieved due to the implementation of 'The Motor Vehicle Amendment Act of 2019'. This amendment includes provisions such as a strict hike in penalties for traffic violations, the introduction of electronic monitoring, and upgraded penalties for juvenile driving.


 Figure 2 - Statistic on Road Accidents, Total Number of Persons Killed and Injured. Source - Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, India.


The COVID-19 pandemic brought the whole world to a significant halt, which also meant less transportation. While normalcy became somewhat of a dream, the reduction in road accidents became a reality. During the lockdown, there was a significant reduction in road deaths, which reduced by 65 percent. This was primarily because of fewer vehicle moments on the road as private and public transportation came to a standstill.



Figure 3 - Statistics on The Indian States with Maximum Decline In Road Deaths During Lockdown. Source - Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, India.


As we are progressing towards the end of the pandemic, we may see an unfortunate uproar in fatalities. In such cases, there are many methodologies that we must continue to follow, such as avoiding drunk driving, following road safety rules, avoiding long hour driving, following the speed limits, and never using mobile phones or earphones while driving. We should use social media to generate awareness regarding road safety and conducting awareness camps at the grade school, college, and corporate levels. If we see the bigger picture, every accident that has occurred is preventable. Every time we start our vehicles, let us remember that one misstep can end someone else's life, as well as our own. Follow roadways guidelines and save lives.”

- Anand Subramanian - India



According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1.35 million people die in car accidents per annum globally, and between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, while many of those people incur a disability as a result of their injury.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), “Although the U.S. population has been growing steadily since 1975, the rate of crash deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 is about half of what it was four decades ago. In 2019, the overall per capita death rate decreased 2 percent compared with 2018.” A total of 36,096 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2019.

Because of COVID-19-related impacts, the number of miles driven in 2020 decreased by 13.2% compared to 2019. The number of miles driven in February 2021 decreased by 12.1% compared to February 2020. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimate of total motor-vehicle deaths for 2020 is 42,060, up 8% from 39,107 in 2019. The estimated annual population death rate is 12.8 deaths per 100,000 population, up from 11.9 in 2019.

While the full 2021 report won’t be available until next year, it has been recorded that deaths for the first two months of 2021 are estimated to be 6,160.

Different states in the U.S. experience car accidents at different rates. This can be attributed to the fact that diverse states have different demographics, traffic laws, weather, travel speeds, and topography. The states with the highest recorded traffic fatalities are Texas, California, and Florida.

Contributing to the death toll are alcohol, speeding, lack of safety belt use, and other problematic driver behaviors. Death rates vary by vehicle type, driver age and sex, and other factors.

- Kassidy Garland - United States (Philadelphia, PA)

 


Road traffic accidents in Nigeria are often attributed to the bad road network, poor road infrastructure, faulty vehicles, and overspeeding. Accidents are not a big deal anymore - the number of casualties is of more concern.

Sarah Adeyemi, a motorist says, "We should not be killed in our country for lack of organization. No dedicated lanes for big trucks, Nigerians are dying in droves over road accidents. Government should remove tankers and trucks from plying the same lane as smaller vehicles."

In 2018, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), recorded a total of 9,741 road traffic crashes - an increase of 3.8% from 2017. These crashes included 2,739 fatal cases, 5,849 serious cases, 1,153 minor cases, claiming 5,181 lives."

In 2019, 11,072 road traffic crashes were recorded in the country. 6,911 serious cases, 1,265 minor cases, and  5,483 lives lost. Also, the Q1 2020 road transport data reflected that 23,070 persons were involved in accident crashes. Total of 3,947 Road Traffic Crashes (RTC), involving 6,448 vehicles. It claimed 1,758 lives, 11,250 persons sustaining injuries.

The COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions on travel impacted accident figures in Q2 2020. 2,080 road crashes were recorded - a total of 5,535 Nigerians injured, 855 were killed, and 11,033 persons were involved in the road traffic crashes. Q3 2020 road transport data lists 3,066 crashes, and a total of 1,236 Nigerians died with 4,893 vehicles involved in road crashes.

Speed Violation is the major cause of road crashes. Other causes of road traffic crashes include reckless driving, mechanical faults, tire-burst, brake failures, bad roads, route violation, overloading, driving under the influence, and use of phones while driving.

Road accidents occur more on dilapidated roads, littered with crater-sized potholes and gullies. At such points, over-speeding-reckless drivers lose control of their vehicles resulting in deadly accidents, especially at night. The roads are then repaired after they have caused many fatal crashes.

Lagos State, a commercial nerve center and a heavily motorized urban area, has the highest accidents and casualties per population. Ineffective road planning systems, vehicle misuse, inappropriate street parking, traffic congestion, are contributing factors. From January to May 2021, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) recorded accidents from falling oil tankers and trucks, tanker explosions, vehicle accidents caused by reckless driving and mechanical faults.

Thousands die from road crashes every year. But these accidents are undoubtedly on the list of preventable deaths.

- Belinda Nzeribe -  Nigeria  



In a news release on February 3, 2021, Head of the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch (PSTEB) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Senior Superintendent (SSP) Gary McKenzie was reported to make the following statement:

“Speeding is one of the leading causes of fatal crashes in Jamaica. When motorists drive at excessive speeds, with no regard for road conditions, they put themselves, pedestrians, and other road users at greater risk of injury and death in the event of an accident. While the police and other road safety stakeholders continue to work to create and implement speed management initiatives, motorists are also required to play their part in reducing their driving speed and prevent crashes.”

SSP McKenzie also stated that drivers can take simple steps towards reducing their speed. This includes paying close attention to their speedometer, while still carefully watching the road. These checks will allow drivers to be aware of how fast they are going. McKenzie also shared that, “Another tip is to drive below the speed limit to keep your speed in check.”

It was reported that road fatalities are currently 40% lower than the corresponding period in 2020. There have been thirty (30) fatalities resulting from twenty-eight (28) road crashes since the start of this year. PSTEB remains committed in its duty to have road fatalities, and vehicular collisions in general, significantly reduced by occupying thoroughfares and conducting regular operations to ensure motorists are complying.


Perspective on Speed

On the matter of speed, in a news release on July 15, 2020, Director of the Ministry of Transport and Mining’s Road Safety Unit (RSU), Kenute Hare warned motorists that speed limit signs have nothing to do with road safety, noting that it depends on a driver’s ability to react to a potential collision in a timely manner.

“The speed limit has nothing to do with safety; it is all about convenience,” said Hare. “There are areas across the globe where speed limits are set very high, and we know for a fact that if a pedestrian is hit at those speeds, the pedestrian just will not survive. You can put a speed limit on a road that is 80 kilometers per hour, but you may have a school there, or a high-traffic pedestrian area, so why would you do that?” asked Hare suggesting that drivers and riders should be mindful of the speed limit but they should also consider other factors.

“In areas where we have a lot of pedestrians, we should not allow vehicles to be traveling over 30 kilometers per hour, because we are fully aware that between 20 and 30 kilometers per hour, while that may be a slight speed, the pedestrian can be killed. Vehicles bend, twist, and crush during a collision, and that also occurs with human beings,” he added.

The RSU director pointed out that the amount of time needed to respond appropriately in order to prevent a vehicular crash depends on the size and speed of one’s vehicle.

“To avoid a collision, it requires time to perceive and react. The faster you are going, the more time it is going to take you to stop that vehicle and the more distance you are going to have to cover,” Hare warned. He also noted that trucks and cars are made differently. Whereas a car will stop quicker than a truck, the truck’s acceleration and deceleration factor are much lower than that of a car.


Tally of Road Fatalities up to April 28th

Approximately one month later, on April 28, 2021, it was reported that more than 140 people have died in motor vehicle crashes across Jamaica since the start of the year.

Of the 140 victims since the start of the year, 46 were motorcyclists, 28 were pedestrians, 10 pedal cyclists, 17 passengers of private motor vehicles, two were passengers of commercial motor vehicles, six were passengers of public passenger motor vehicles, one was a pillion passenger, one was the driver of a commercial motor vehicle, and 29 were drivers of private motor vehicles. This information was provided by the Road Safety Unit located within the Ministry of Transport and Mining.”

- Candice Stewart - Jamaica



Despite our writers spanning across a vast expanse of the globe, they all have similar analyses. Road safety is important no matter where you are, not just for your own sake, but for that of others around you. Please join us this week, May 17th - May 23rd, by remembering to abide by basic road safety guidelines and helping to contribute to making roads both locally and internationally a safer place.





 Lubaba is a Freelance Digital content creator, copywriter and scriptwriter. She graduated with a BSc in Biomedical Engineering from Sudan University for Science and Technology. Later, she decided to follow her ambition and shift from Engineering to Creative Writing. Lubaba started with poetry writing, and then moved into digital media including articles, websites and social media content. She gained her experience in script writing through working with Abu Dhabi tv in producing variety shows. Lubaba is highly interested in social issues, wellness and women topics.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lubaba-ali/
Poetry Blog: https://thatvoicewithinme.wordpress.com/


 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.



 Kassidy Garland has had a great appreciation for reading and writing since she was young. She graduated from West Chester University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English & Women and Gender Studies. With a concentration in creative writing, Kassidy has 5 years of experience writing blogs, articles, and for social media. Kassidy is also pursuing a Master’s degree in IT with a concentration in Web Development. Based out of Philadelphia, Kassidy loves to write about a number of topics and looks forward to sharing her passion with those at FunTimes Magazine. 



 Belinda is a contributor for FunTimes Magazine. She runs creative writing clubs in high schools and lives with her husband and three children in Lagos, Nigeria. Her other passion is child literacy and she manages a charity working to improve reading levels of kids in low income communities. She is becoming adept at stealing time here and there to finish her novel. Belinda holds varied degrees in Theatre and Film, Public and Media Relations, International Affairs and Pre-Primary Education.



 Candice Stewart is a storyteller: a writer, blogger of life lessons, a philanthropist and a nature lover. She holds an MA in Communication for Social and Behaviour Change and a BSc. in Psychology from the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Follow her blog at thesuburbangirl.com where she shares stories and life lessons through real-life experiences.