Road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, with around 1.3 million people killed and as many as 50 million people injured each year. For people aged 5-29 years, there is no greater threat to their lives. Globally, 1 of every 4 deaths occur among pedestrians and cyclists.
19 May, 2023 | 05:50 a.m.
Road traffic accidents remain a significant global problem, resulting in countless fatalities and injuries each year. Worldwide, the statistics are staggering, with millions of lives affected. Vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, face increased risks on the roads. The impact of road accidents reverberates throughout individuals and communities, causing immeasurable pain and suffering.
In Sri Lanka, road accidents continue to pose a significant threat to public safety. In 2022, a total of 19,740 road accidents were reported, out of which 2,371 were fatal accidents, according to the annual data reports from the Police Media Unit. Motorcycle accidents accounted for the majority of serious injuries and deaths, with a total of 2,485 fatalities recorded last year. Motorcycle accidents left 806 individuals dead and 5,133 disabled. The Western province witnessed the highest number of accidents, with speed being a major contributing factor.
The Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, developed by the WHO, outlines a comprehensive approach to tackling road traffic injuries. The plan recognizes that preventing these incidents requires addressing the entire transport system. It calls for measures to ensure safe roads, vehicles, and behaviors, as well as improvements in emergency care services. By implementing these strategies, the plan aims to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% within the next decade.
Raising awareness about road safety among all segments of society is crucial. Educational initiatives should target children, young adults, and the general public, focusing on understanding traffic rules, safe pedestrian behavior, and the importance of responsible driving. Furthermore, utilizing various communication channels, including social media, can amplify the message and foster a culture of road safety.
Effective legislation and enforcement mechanisms play a pivotal role in deterring dangerous driving behaviors and promoting compliance with traffic regulations. Stricter penalties for traffic violations, regular monitoring of traffic offenses, and robust enforcement practices can significantly contribute to reducing road accidents.
Ensuring road safety is a collective responsibility that requires a comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach. By addressing safe infrastructure, vehicle safety, responsible behavior, emergency response systems, education, and enforcement, we can work towards reducing the alarming number of road traffic injuries and fatalities worldwide. Governments, organizations, communities, and individuals must unite their efforts to prioritize road safety and create safer roads for everyone. Only through sustained commitment and collaborative action can we pave the way for a safer future on the roads.