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Road safety; a sacred responsibility - EDITORIAL

8 May 2015 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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In a shocking report that should give all countries a red-light signal, the United Nations in a report to mark Global Road Safety week from May 4 to 10 said around 186,300 children under 18 years died from road traffic crashes annually. 

According to the staggering figures compiled by the UN-affiliated World Health Organisation, the rates of road traffic death are three times higher in developing countries than in developed countries. 

The third UN Global Road Safety Week on the theme, ‘save kids’ lives’ seeks to highlight the plight of children on the world’s roads and generate action to better ensure their safety. The Week features hundreds of events hosted by governments, international agencies, civil society organizations, and private companies, including the delivery of the “Child Declaration for Road Safety” to policy-makers. These events highlight WHO’s package of ten key strategies for keeping children safe on the road. 

According to the WHO, every four minutes a child is prematurely lost on the roads of this world. Many more are injured, often severely. These traumatic events cause immeasurable suffering and grief and at times economic hardship for families and friends. In addition, they cost societies precious resources, diverting these from other pressing health and development challenges.

Many of the children who are victims of this man-made calamity are poor. Attempts to address road safety for children are, therefore, inextricably linked to notions of social justice, and should be part of global efforts to reduce poverty. Although the WHO does not mention it, Sri Lanka is one of the offenders. In January this year 50,000 more vehicles were put on the roads. The WHO says that historically, this was also the case in high-income countries. A shift in mind set is desperately needed to ensure that roads everywhere serve the needs of and are safe for all who use them, including children and other vulnerable groups such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. 

Such a change is imperative for ongoing efforts to promote healthy lifestyles. The walking, cycling and other physical activity that would do much to curb overweight and obesity in children will inevitably bring them into contact with the road. It is only if those roads are made safe that children will be inclined to use them and their parents and other caregivers will allow them to do so. 

No single measure adequately addresses the vast range of risks to children on the road, however, there are steps that each family, community and country can take to improve road safety for children, WHO says.

Road safety week will be meaningful if the government and people of Sri Lanka not only read this report and consider it important and life saving. They must act on it and act now. 

If we need more reasons for action let us read on. Road traffic injuries are the number one cause of death among children between 15 and 17 years while it is the third highest cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14. That means children in the prime of their lives, full of energy, wisdom and creativity, children who can change the world and its values.  

According to figures compiled by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Transport last year, there were 2,436 deaths due to road accidents, 6,688 accidents causing critical injuries and 13,051 causing minor injuries while the number in which damages were caused to vehicles was 14,045. 

Have motorists questioned themselves as to why the people can’t use the road safely. There are people who use the road thinking about their safety as well as the safety of other lives there, but most of the time these accidents happen either because of the recklessness of the driver or pedestrian.

So let us begin today. When we sit at the wheel let us remember we have a sacred responsibility for the lives of all those who are travelling in our vehicles and all those who are on the streets which we travel on including children and handicapped people. It is not just a question of getting a driving license sometimes giving a bribe, it is a sacred responsibility for the lives of others and our own lives. 
 

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  Comments - 1

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  • mano Sunday, 10 May 2015 05:10 AM

    Main thing of Drivers Training system of Sri Lanka is not updated. Still traditional ways are following by Learners. No supervising Lesson Plans or Equipments which need to keep in side the Learners centers to learn for Learners. No one concern to learn about Technical Aspects and Psychological Aspects at training sessions. They teach only Legal Aspects. Therefore, no rooms to available to develop Drivers Responsibility of Drivers. Many NGOO talking about Road Traffic as their propaganda to get funds only.


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