Life is not a car part

Speeding is a major cause of road fatalities in Fiji. Picture:WWW. FIJIROADS.ORG

AROUND the world, road traffic accidents are a major cause of death among all age groups and the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged five to 29 years.

In fact, every 24 seconds someone dies on the road, amounting to 1.35 million deaths annually.

The risk of dying in a road traffic crash is more than three times higher in low-income countries like Fiji than in high-income countries.

Furthermore, United Nations statistics reveal that more than half of all road traffic deaths are vulnerable road users including pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

Most of them are among the world’s poor.

In Fiji, road accidents, especially those resulting in fatalities, have been a worrying concern for many years.

Stakeholders such as the Fiji Police Force, National Road Safety Council and the Land Transport Authority are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place.

That is, while they burst their communications budget on expensive awareness and media campaigns, motorists continue with over speeding and driving under the influence, the country’s top two causes of road accidents and fatalities.

In 2017, seventy lives were lost on our roads, the highest number of road deaths recorded in almost a decade.

Then, Police Chief of Operations ACP Rusiate Tudravu said the public needed to “adopt a change of attitude” about road safety.

“Speeding continues to be a major area of concern and despite repeated calls to adhere to the national speed limits set out by authorities the traffic infringement notices clearly indicate a blatant disregard for the law which needs to change to avoid accidents and fatalities this year,” ACP Tudravu said.

Have motorists changed their attitudes? Statistics indicate the answer is no!

In 2018, nine Fijian children lost their lives to road accidents, three of the passengers while the rest were pedestrians.

The youngest casualty was a two-year-old. As a result, the Land Transport Authority in May this year launched its Kids Safe Awareness Campaign Aligned to Fiji Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 National Action Plan on Road Safety Education and government’s five and 20 Year National Development Plan, the campaign targeted reducing the number of road crashes and fatalities and raising road safety consciousness.

It also urged adults, parents and guardians to play an active role in raising the level of road safety awareness.

The Kids Safe campaign targeted children from the ages of four to 13 years in the month of May.

The NRSC notes that speeding, fatigue and drunk driving were related to most road accidents in Fiji and caused low field of vision, a delay in reaction time, decreased coordination, and an increase in risk-taking behaviour.

The council says approximately 70 per cent of all road fatalities involve speeding.

It adds that the use of seat belts cannot be emphasised enough.

“Seat belts save lives if you are involved in a collision and you are not wearing a seat belt you are 18 times more likely to die than someone who does wear a seat belt.

Seat belts save lives because they stop a person from being ejected from the car and they spread the impact force over a greater area of the body.”

Sunday, November 17 was World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, whose observance is slowly picking up throughout the world.

The day is an important tool in the global effort to reduce road casualties.

It offers an opportunity for drawing attention to the scale of the emotional and economic devastation caused by road crashes and for giving recognition to the suffering of road crash victims and the work of support and rescue services.

This year’s theme is “Life is not a car part” which is based on Pillar 3 of the Global
Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety – Safer vehicles.

“Notwithstanding global efforts to the contrary, the type of road mobility that is
in place throughout the world still fosters an unbearable number of deaths, serious
injuries and illnesses every year, both as the immediate consequence of road traffic
crashes and through air pollution,” the UN says.

Road safety may seem unimportant when you stack it against issues such as
poverty and economics but as unrelated as it may seem, it has implications on both.

When a sole breadwinner dies, he or she leaves behind a struggling family that
slowly sinks into poverty.

When 50 sole breadwinners die, it leaves behind a huge loss that has serious economic consequences.

If you’re tired, take a rest. If you’re tipsy, catch a cab.

Take it easy, you will get to your destination – it is better late than
never.

Wear your seat belt – it may save your life.

If you are a pedestrian, be careful and alert.

Always remember, you or a member of your family could be part of our road accident and fatality statistics.

Life is not a car part that can be fixed or replaced.

Treat road safety with the seriousness it deserves.

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