Road Traffic Safety: Critical Risk Factor for Road Traffic Injuries
WHO has done a very commendable work in studying, compiling and publishing “Third Global Status Report on Road Safety — 2015” according to which 1.2 million lives are lost each year due to road traffic injuries. This in turn has a huge impact on health, economy and development in the world. The report shows that low and middle income countries are most affected. It is an irony that the people(s) who can afford the least in terms of wealth, amenities, scope and standard of living, are opting for the luxury of rocketing rate of road accidents and dying in large number.
Change in road use behavior on key risk factors for road traffic injuries due to drunk driving, high speed, failure to wear seat belts, helmets, child restraints and obeying road traffic safety rules are the critical reasons for road fatalities and serious accidents.
Factors which should be kept in mind to avoid road traffic injuries:-
- Enforcement plays an important role to the success of road safety laws — Enforcement plays a major role in strengthening the success of road safety laws. In countries where legislation is not accompanied with enforcement, it is required to make public aware that breaking road safety rules can result in penalty. It might be possible that poor enforcement is result of administrative problems, lack of will, corruption and inadequate resources.
- Reduce speed — Everyone likes and opts for thrill, fast, easy and relatively low cost travel but this should not be undertaken putting one’s life at risk. Safety must lie at the heart of speed management. Setting and implementing national speed limits is an important step in reducing speed. The core safety factor is that the driver at any chosen speed, must be in confident control to tide over any sudden appearance of hazard.
Safe speed should tailor to fit with traffic composition and road’s function
3. Increasing motorcycle crash helmet use — With time, there is a remarkable increase in head injuries with rising motorcycle use. Wearing crash helmet can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by approximately 70%.
Effective enforcement of motorcycle helmet laws can increase helmet-wearing rates and thereby reducing head injuries, which is the main cause of fatalities. Helmet laws should cover all riders and specify a helmet quality standard.
One serious road accident in the country occurs every minute and 16 die on Indian roads every hour.
4. Stop drink and drug — driving — Drink and drug driving enhances the chance of road accidents. Drivers with a BAC of between 0.02 g/dl and 0.05 g/dl have at least 3 times greater risk of dying in a vehicle crash. This risk increases to at least 6 times with a BAC between 0.05 g/dl and 0.08 g/dl, and rises exponentially above 0.08 g/dl. Drugs contain wide variety of psychoactive substances which can adversely affect driver’s attention and behavior. There is a strong enforcement need of drink and driving laws to reduce such practices. There should be public awareness campaigns, police sobriety checkpoints and random breath testing for significant reductions in drink and drug driving crashes.
5. Increase seat-belt use — Seat-belt serves an important role in saving individuals from fatal injuries. Seat-belts limit the movement of vehicle drivers, thereby reducing the chances of any incident. Without seat belts, if any accident occurs the driver and passenger would bounce and hit the surface.
6. Increase child restraint use — To prevent children getting injured or from accidents the best solution is to provide them with an independent age-appropriate child restraints on rear seats. As compared to unrestrained children or children using adult seat-belts, children with appropriate restraint are less likely to be injured or killed.
7. Reduce distracted driving — Distracted driving is one of the major and growing threat to road safety. Increasing use of mobile phone creates different types of distraction like auditory, visual, manual and cognitive. Even texting causes cognitive distraction along with longer periods of both visual and manual distraction.
8. Enhance public awareness — Enhance public awareness about road safety rules. This can be done best with animation safety videos. Safety driving tips via animated videos makes understanding easy, they are creative and practical. Apart from this various campaigns can be undertaken to boost public awareness towards road safety rules.
- Enhancing public awareness, changing road user behavior is a key component towards road safety.
- Strict enforcement of road safety laws to reduce injuries and deaths.
- More attention should be paid to the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
In Substance: — The disturbing high rate of road fatalities and serious injuries warrant urgent attention of the government, police, law-enforcing agencies, managements, society and people at large. A multifaceted approach is required for effective and long-lasting changes to be made to national road safety. The above mentioned safety measures shall help reduce and tide-over the problem in a significant way.
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