Posted on: May 16, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

State authorities in Africa and worldwide are committed to intensifying road safety strategies in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

African countries hosting high profile road safety events and announcing national plans, launched on May 11, 2011, include Ethiopia, Niger, and Nigeria.

Traffic incidents could take the lives of 1.9-million people per year by 2020 if 2010 trends continue. It is already the ninth largest cause of death worldwide.

Kenyan Red Cross Society displayed 3000 pairs of shoes along a major highway in Nairobi to demonstrate the road safety crisis. Each shoe represents a life lost in a road crash in Kenya.

Public demonstrations, simulation and training on first aid and hospital care continues, as well as a road Disaster Risk Reduction Project, already running for three years, on the Nairobi –Mombasa highway, involving drivers and police and aiming to change attitudes and risk tolerance of road users.

A Kenyan NGO work group hosted a road safety caravan with relevant songs, from Nyayo stadium in Nairobi via major roads to a central venue where leaders spoke on public action for road safety.

African corridors safety project

The first phase of a road corridors project targets the Norther Corridor of Mombasa –Malaba –Kampala. World Bank director in Kenya and Rwanda, Johannes Zutt, said the project aims at reducing accidents and deaths on regional transit corridors, reports Standard Mobile.

“Five million deaths and 50 million injuries can be avoided by improving road safety, especially on the major regional corridors,” Zutt said.

Kenyan roads minister Franklin Bett said despite improved road conditions, road accidents in Kenya has continued to increase. “Africa losses 1% to 5% of its economy to accidents and loss of lives every year,” Bett said.

“Road incident cost is due to loss of productive human capital like skills, cost of health care, damage to vehicles and infrastructure. Motorisation in Kenya is about a tenth compared to developed countries, yet the number of accidents recorded is almost 10 times higher.”

Kenya will inforce axle weight restrictions, and form regional road safety councils. Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai said wider public education was necessary, and traffic slowing strategies like speed bumps.

Kenya introduced alcohol limits for drivers by random sampling at checkpoints four years ago, and check on underage drinking, but these efforts have not achieved much, reports Standard Mobile.

Kenya’s ‘Michuki Rules’ of former transport minister John Michuki made mandatory seat belt use and fitting of speed governors in public vehicles. Since 2010, Kenya requires cyclists to use helmets.

Road conditions are being rehabilitated and upgraded, including bicycle lanes, safety programmes, road skills training, visibility enhancement, walkways, safe pedestrian crossings and traffic calming.

Kenya Transport and Licensing Board chairman Hassan ole Kamwaro wants labour rights for bus and minibus drivers and by regulating drivers’ working hours.

“Fitting of speed governors is necessary. Road safety measures found effective in a high income countries, may not work in low income countries.”

Road safety stats

Road traffic injuries have become the leading killer of young people aged 15 to 29 years. Road crashes cause about 35-million non fatal injuries every year.

Road incident prevention by road conditions, vehicle roadworthiness enforcement, traffic skills, transport safety culture, emergency response and services for victims of traffic incidents, are among the aims of the road safety decade.

Emergency care and support services for road traffic incident victims are inadequate and declining in many countries, while road incident response facilities burden emergency and health services worldwide.

Several landmark national monuments will be illuminated by a road safety logo and mottoes, including Times Square in New York, Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Trafalgar Square in London, Jet d’Eau in Geneva.

World Health Organisation (WHO) director general Dr Margaret Chan said states and communities were already taking action to save lives on their streets and highways. “Road traffic crashes are a growing health and development concern affecting all nations.”

Immediate, practical road safety steps

WHO Director of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, Dr Etienne Krug, said steps outlined in the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety were practical and immediately implementable.

Enforcement measures would focus on use of motorcycle helmets, vehicle seat belts, child restraints, drunk driving, reckless driving, and roadworthiness. Some countries focus merely on speeding by way of speed fines.

Pedestrians at risk

Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists represent almost half of the fatalities on roads. The global plan suggests cycle paths, footpaths, motorcycle lanes, and improved access to safe public transport.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg had committed US$125-million to support road safety in low income and middle income countries. WHO will coordinate global and national efforts.

SA road safety programme

The SA Department of Transport (DoT) and Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) have defined their roles in a long term national plan. GRSP partners in SA are Childsafe, SA Against Drunk Driving, Drive Alive, and Red Cross Society.

ISO standards supporting road safety; http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1426

Road Safety Fund; http://www.roadsafetyfund.org/

WHO publications on road safety; http://www.who.int/roadsafety/publications/en/

PHOTO; A Road Safety Decade of Action tag, as worn by supporters of the Road Safety Fund, and projected on landmark buildings, like the statue of Jesus the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Times Square, bridges, pillars and major civic buildings.

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