Zooming in on road safety

Zooming in on road safetyDespite the advances made in traffic technology and the massive information campaigns launched for safer travels, road accidents remain very pervasive. This is true not only in less developed nations, but even in countries with sophisticated traffic-regulation technology. The one thing common in all these accidents is the involvement of human element.

The fact that traffic-related accidents have become so common has, rather unfortunately, desensitized many people to the gravity or seriousness of the situation. In fact, upon hearing yet another news report of a vehicular mishap, many people tend not to care anymore unless they personally know any of the people involved. This attitude is regrettable, especially since awareness of the causes of road accidents is essential in ensuring your own safety and security.

In any event, nothing drives home an important point more than understanding objective facts and figures. In addition, cold hard facts serve as reliable gauge of the actions that need to be taken to address issues on the road.

In terms of road safety, it seems that Africa has a lot of work to do. In a listing of the countries in the world with the highest road accident fatalities per 100,000 people, the African nations of Namibia, Sudan, Congo, Malawi, and Central African Republic posted some of the most dismal scores. Namibia managed to earn the dubious distinction of having 45 road accident deaths per 100,000 people — the worst ever for any country. It’s certainly a far cry from Maldives, where the world’s safest roads are, with only 2 road accident deaths per 100,000 people.

The sorry state of road safety in Africa is affirmed by a study in 2010 by the World Health Organization, which revealed that the African region has the world’s highest road traffic fatality rate. The same study showed that on the other end of the spectrum is Europe.

But even in Europe, road paint safety remains a principal concern. A study by the European Commission showed that in 2011, more than 30,000 people died in member states due to road accidents. In each of these deaths, there are also an estimated four permanent injuries, eight serious injuries, and 50 minor injuries.

Across the entire planet, 1.24 million die each year on the road due to accidents. The economic impact of each of these fatalities is enormous. Yet, despite this, the World Health Organization notes that only seven percent of the world’s countries have enacted comprehensive legislation designed to deter or mitigate road safety issues. In the absence of critical legislation, the wide variety of risks to road safety continues to persist.

This situation is rendered even more deplorable when taken in the context of how many of the people who die on the road are actually not the ones behind the wheel. The WHO notes that in many instances, it is the more vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, who end up becoming victims of vehicular mishaps caused by drivers who are either driving under the influence or distracted by their mobile phones.