Road danger is a man-made crisis, with human error accounting for over 90 percent of accidents, said Bob Joop Goos, chairman of the International Organisation for Road Accident Prevention.
“More than 90 percent of road accidents are caused by human error. We, therefore, have to focus on people in our traffic safety programmes,” he stated at the opening day of the international symposium on ‘The Role of Media in Traffic Safety’ on Wednesday.
According to Jose Miguel, chairman of the Portuguese Society for Road Accidents Prevention, a road accident is a consequence of the quality of the road transport system or a break in the balance between the environmental demand and the driver’s ability to act.
It is, therefore, imperative to “increase the ability of the road users to act in accordance with the needs of the environment,” said Miguel.
The key is focusing on the human element with the “objective of stimulating good (driving) behaviour,” remarked Goos.
“Ninety percent of our road accidents are related to bad driving behaviour — driving recklessly and speeding under the influence of alcohol, changing lanes without signalling, driving on the hard shoulder and passing through red lights. I can count 55 behaviours that control driving. If we can influence these, we can modify driver’s behaviour,” Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan, Commander-in-chief of the Dubai Police. He cited an incident where a young man asked for a ‘consideration’ for his traffic violations, which amounted to Dh100,000.
“We have reckless young people. I told him to pay his fines. And in full, not in instalments, as a way to teach him a lesson,” Lt Gen Khalfan related.
According to Goos, 1.3 million road deaths occur worldwide every year and more than 50 million people are seriously injured.
There are 3,500 deaths a day or 150 every hour, and nearly three people get killed on the road every minute.
And ‘if we continue with the present efforts’, the number of traffic fatalities worldwide will rise by 67 percent over the period of 2000 to 2020, 68 percent in the Middle East and North African region, and 144 percent in Southeast Asia and middle to low-income countries by 83 percent, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) prediction.
“Road danger is not just statistics, it causes a great deal of suffering for the people who have lost a loved one or who are handicapped. Road danger has a big impact in our lives,” Goos pointed out.
He called on the media to partner with government bodies and international organizations in communicating the message of traffic safety.
“Here comes the important and indispensable role of media in our fight against road crashes. The objective is to bring and to keep road safety on the centre stage and the first step is to raise awareness, to make people see that there’s a huge challenge to solve. Many people do not know the extent of the disaster which takes place on our roads everyday,” he said.
According to him, the second step is to tell people that the challenge of road safety can be overcome, that the danger on the road is a man-made crisis which can be solved. “The sure step is to discuss how we can solve the problem and to implement adequate measures,” Goos explained. He added that the media can help spread awareness by running specific messages about speeding, drinking and driving, seatbelts and traffic distractions, and through broadcasting and hosting programmes and talk shows with experts to speak on the issue of road safety. “This way we are building a kind of road safety culture in society,” said Goos. “The important tool is to reach to their hearts and in their lifestyle and inform young people through the use of social media such as facebook and twitter. For young people, traffic is killer number one,” he stated.
Changing one’s behaviour is possible, said Goos, citing the WHO forecast for Europe and other high-income countries — a decrease of 27 percent of traffic deaths over the period 2000 to 2020.
“The United Nations has proclaimed 2011 to 2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety and the official launch of the decade will be on May 11, 2011,” Goos said.
The UN goal is to halve the number of road victims by 2020. Achieving this means preventing five million traffic deaths and 50 million seriously injured people, and saving $3 trillion (USD).
“With the UN and the WHO and other organisations, we are building a global alliance on road safety to fight road crashes. I invite the media to come on board and be a part of it. Road safety needs you and together we can make a difference,” Goos urged.
- 1.3 million road deaths occur every year
- More than 50 million people are seriously injured every year
- There are 3,500 deaths a day or 150 every hour, and nearly three people get killed on the road every minute
- The number of traffic fatalities will rise by 67 percent over the period of 2000-2020, 68 percent in the Middle East and North African region and 144 percent in Southeast Asia
- Middle and low-income countries to see an increase in traffic deaths of 83 percent by 2020
- Europe and other high-income countries to decrease traffic deaths by 27 percent over the period 2000-2020.
- The UN goal is to halve the number of road victims by 2020
- $3 trillion (USD) is the cost of road crashes every year
By: Olivia Olarte
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