Siva Shankari Writes a Letter to the Prime Minister

Dear Sir,

Today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), motor vehicle crashes kill about 1.2 million people each year. That is set to rise to 2 million by 2020 unless new safety measures are taken, making road traffic injuries the third largest cause of death and disability.

Road traffic crashes are one of the world¶s largest public health and injury prevention problems. The problem is all the more acute because the victims are overwhelmingly healthy prior to their crashes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than a million people  are killed on the worlds roads each year.

A report published by the WHO in 2004 estimated that some 1.2 million people were killed and 50 million injured in traffic collisions on the roads around the world each year and was the leading cause of death among children 10 ± 19 years of age. The report also noted that the problem was most severe in developing countries and that simple prevention measures could halve the number of deaths.

But even in the increasingly risk-averse developed world, people accept road death and injury as part of the price of living in modern societies. Most road safety experts put this attitude down to a widespread ignorance of the scope and extent of the problem and what can be done to address and prevent it.

To change people¶s attitude, experts from the World Bank published in 2004 a pioneering new report, World report on road traffic injury prevention that advocated road crashes be ranked along with cancer, heart disease and stroke as a major public health threat.

And nowhere is this threat greater than in developing countries.

Death on the roads: The Human Toll

Road traffic injuries are a huge public health and development problem:

– They kill 1.2 million people a year or an average of 3,242 people every day.

– They injure or disable up to 50 million people a year.

– They rank as the 11th cause of death and account for 2.1 per cent of all deaths globally.

Ninety per cent of road traffic injuries affect people in low- and middle-income countries, especially in Asia (India)

– More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults between 15 and 44 years of age, the most productive group in any     society.

– Seventy-three per cent of all road traffic fatalities are male.

– The most vulnerable road users are pedestrians, cyclists, users of motorized two-wheelers and passengers on public transport.

Without action the problem will get worse in the developing world:

– Road traffic injuries are predicted to become the third-largest contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020.

– Road traffic deaths are predicted to increase by 83 per cent in low- and middle-income countries, and decrease by 30 per cent in high-income countries.

Many countries have shown sharp reductions in the number of crashes and casualties by:

– Enforcing laws governing speed limits, alcohol, seat-belts, child restraints and crash helmets.

– Implementing transport and land-use policies that promote fewer, shorter and safer trips; encouraging safer modes of travel such as public transport incorporating injury-prevention measures into traffic management.

Siva Shankari

Image Courtesy: [The Viewspaper]

Disclaimer: The above article is the personal opinion of the author and not of the publication.