Saturday, 23 Oct, 2021

Open forum

Improving global road safety and World Day of Remembrance

Update: 2016-11-19 23:48:00
Improving global road safety and World Day of Remembrance

Road traffic crashes take the lives of nearly 1.3 million people every year, and disable millions more. Around 90 percent of road traffic deaths and injuries take place in low and middle-income countries. Road crashes have been acknowledged as a challenge by the United Nations and its Member States for many years. However, it has only been during the past decade that the issue has begun to gain the prominence it deserves among the world’s most pressing international health and development concerns that requires concerted efforts for effective and sustainable prevention.

Children, pedestrians, cyclists, older people and public transport user are the most vulnerable of road users. More than 1000 children and young adults under the age of 25 years are killed in road crashes everyday. Recognizing importance and severity of road crashes issue has been added in Sustainable Development Goals last year. 

Goal: 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents

Goal: 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.

World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank (WB) highlighted road safety as a social equity issue. Road crashes have a disproportionate impact on the poor who have limited access to post-crash emergency care and loss of income that pushes families into poverty. Crude estimates of the economic costs of road deaths and injuries put them at an average of one percent of GNP for low-income countries, compared with 1.5 percent for middle-income countries and two percent for high-income countries. It could be significantly higher if under-representation of deaths and injuries, the social costs of pain and suffering were fully accounted for.

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is an annual event commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year to remember those killed or injured on the world’s roads. The Day, which was officially endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 26 October 2005, also serves as an opportunity to highlight the toll of road traffic deaths and injuries, their long-term consequences and the need for action.

The day is dedicated to remembering the many millions killed or injured in road crashes and their families and communities, as well as to pay tribute to the dedicated emergency crews, police and medical professionals who daily deal with the traumatic aftermath of road death and injury.

Why is there a need for this day?

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.

The burden of grief and distress experienced by this huge number of people is all the greater because many of the victims are young, because many of the crashes could and should have been prevented and because the response to road death and injury and to victims and families is often inadequate, unsympathetic, and inappropriate to the loss of life or quality of life.

Theme for 2016: Vital post-crash actions: Medical Care, Investigation, Justice!

This theme relates to Pillar 5 of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action (2011-2020).

Proposed actions relate to the immediate time after a crash to save lives and reduce severity of impact. Develop hospital trauma care systems and good practices and quality assurance on trauma care systems. Provide early rehabilitation and support to the injured and bereaved to minimize both physical and psychological trauma, ensure insurance system.

Encourage a thorough investigation into the crash and the application of an effective legal response to road deaths and injuries. And, encouraging research and development for improving post-crash response and provide incentives for employers to employ people with disabilities.

This special Remembrance Day is intended to respond to the great need of road crash victims for public recognition of their loss and suffering. This day has also become an important tool for governments and all those whose work involves crash prevention or response to the aftermath, since it offers the opportunity to demonstrate the enormous scale and impact of road deaths and injuries and the urgent need for concerted action to stop the carnage.

Road safety issue in Bangladesh & Youth engagement

For a developing country like Bangladesh, allowing its citizen to perish in road accidents is not only tragic but unacceptable. In 13 August 2011, Bangladesh lost two brilliant citizens, filmmaker Tareq Masud and journalist Mishuk Munir in a fatal road crash on Dhaka-Aricha highway in Manikganj. We, the people were shocked, angered and many led protests to the streets demanding immediate action to bring justice to those killed and ensure road safety. But one can see that the most recent fatality figures express no progress!

PPRC and BRAC undertake a study “Road Safety in Bangladesh: Realities and Challenges” (2014) where key finding is that road accidents are occurring not across all the highways and streets, but in a small number of “black spots” that see repetitive accidents. The total length of accident-prone highways was found to be around 57 kilometers in RHD identified 209 “black spots”.

Another finding is that, accidents occur frequently in crowded intersections and bus stands, which are poorly planned or poorly regulated. Road curves with poor visibility are also responsible for a large share of the accidents. Around 76 percent accident victims come from the vulnerable road users. The maximum risk groups are: pedestrians (41%); passengers of light vehicles (19%); motor-cyclists/three-wheelers (16%).

Besides, hit and run accounts for 42% of the accidents, 19% are head-on collisions, and 13% occur due to overturned vehicles. The post-crash action in the country is very minimum or low. There are 12 trauma centers in the country, and, of those, only four are active. After road crash, injured patients have an access only in government-led medical college and hospitals for treatment.

So it is the time to commit our government to establish countrywide post-crash emergency rescue and treatment system within one hour (golden hour) of road crashes to reduce more fatalities.

Collective effort from all stake holders including private hospitals, clinics, medicine companies, community volunteers and voluntary organizations working on post-crash rescue can play a vital role in this regards.

Writers Sk. Mojibul Huq and GM Reza Sumon, BRAC, Advocacy for Social Change

BDST: 1024 HRS, NOV 20, 2016

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