We’ve all seen it before. A flood of heavy traffic suddenly stops us in the middle of the highway, and while we’re fumbling for our phones so that Google Maps can lead us out of the madness, we think to ourselves, “Was it another car crash?” Chances are, the answer’s yes.
On a global level, we are so used to road casualties, we tend to not even blink an eye at them. In fact, we’ve grown so comfortable with these casualties that they are often dismissed as an annoyance, instead of the ninth leading cause of death worldwide as of 2013. In 2013 alone, it’s alleged by the World Health Organization (WHO) that over 1.25 million people died from this “motorization-fueled epidemic”. Ninety percent of these people were from low- and middle-income nations, half were vulnerable road users, a term coined for cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians, and a large portion of the victims were young adults aged 15-29, making the epidemic the number one cause of death for this age group. While there is a Global Road Safety Week to promote awareness, it’s less known about than National Hot Dog Day, and considering that the first mass production of an automobile was in 1913, it’s strange to think that the first Global Road Safety Week happened in 2007.
The most cited, free, and recent information published about international road traffic fatalities comes from WHO. WHO is an organization stemming from the United Nations (UN), whose most recent in-depth report about this issue was published in 2015, which pulled mainly from statistics the organization established in 2013. This means that the general public has no idea about whether the statistics listed in the WHO report are still valid, or whether the majority of nations have truly adjusted to the heavily suggested policies listed in the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015.
Despite the acknowledgement that road traffic fatalities are one of the leading causes of death, even with the confusion in statistics, there’s a lack of urgency in addressing it. Unlike other causes of ‘preventable deaths’, there are few programs and campaigns about road casualties administered to youth. This excludes that of which relates to drunk-driving, which is generally discussed in anti-drug campaigns, and texting while driving. While there is readily accessible information relating to safety on the road online, it’s unlikely for it to get lots of attention. Even ads relating to the topic don’t get much screen time, unless of course it relates to texting or drinking while driving.
With the lack of current public discussion and of recent information disclosed on road traffic fatalities, how are we supposed to reduce their effect on our day-to-day lives? By starting the discussion and showing our interest in this global issue to our governments (depending on the type of government system one has), we could at least start the ball rolling on road traffic fatality reduction. We, the public, can conduct our own surveys online, and be active on websites and forums related to road traffic safety in our regions. We can make accounts, start hashtags, make it a point to engage our government leaders with related policies, and so and so forth, all to start the conversation.
This is my attempt to “move forward the conversation”: how many times do you see car accidents in a week, and in what country do you live in? Please comment your answer below.