Ensuring road safety a global need - GulfToday

Ensuring road safety a global need

Ensuring road safety a global need

Road saftey is one of the most important items on government's agenda in the UAE. WAM

Saving lives by improving road safety is one of the many objectives of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

What is alarming is that more than 1.3 million people die in road accidents every year, as UN Secretary-General António Guterres pointed out recently, and more young people between the ages of 15 and 29 die from road crashes annually than from HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis or homicide.

Tackling the global road safety crisis is the need of the hour and there can be no laxity in addressing the deadly issue.  

In 2018, a UN Road Safety Fund was launched to finance actions in low and middle-income countries, where around 90 per cent of traffic casualties occur.

As per the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the Organisation’s development arm in the continent, which is also the secretariat for the Trust Fund, every $1,500 contributed to the Fund could save one life; prevent 10 serious injuries; and leverage $51,000 towards investments in road safety.

Next February, a global ministerial conference on road safety will be held in Sweden to strengthen partnerships to accelerate action.

Yet, more needs to be done with earnest participation from all countries.

The UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) aptly calls road traffic crashes a ‘hidden epidemic’.

According to DSS, they have a “dramatically transformative impact” on people’s lives with most causalities remaining “almost invisible to society at large”.

The risk of dying in a road traffic crash is more than 3 times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries.

More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of motorised 2 and 3-wheelers and their passengers are collectively known as “vulnerable road users” and account for half of all road traffic deaths around the world.

A consolation is that since the adoption of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims every Nov.17, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/5, the observance has spread to a growing number of countries on every continent. The day has become an important tool in global efforts to reduce road casualties.

The authorities in the UAE deserve praise for doing their best to instill discipline among motorists through various campaigns.

In an attempt to prevent road accidents and reduce its impact on lives and properties, different government entities in the UAE have launched initiatives and awareness campaigns to lessen the impact of traffic fatalities.

Some of these initiatives are: Abu Dhabi strategic traffic safety plan, Road safety audit, Central traffic control system ‘SCOOT’, Speed management strategy of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, RTA Dubai strategic plan 2014-2018, Dubai traffic safety strategy, among others.

It is mandatory to adhere to the speed limits set on highways, internal streets, and residential areas. Talking on cell phone while driving is prohibited, as it may distract the driver and lead to serious accidents.

RTA recommends that drivers check their car tyre pressure every couple of weeks to avoid potential harm.

The UAE also has a system of black points leading to confiscation of the driver’s licence to ensure adherence to traffic laws.

Globally though, there is a need for greater efforts to reduce road traffic deaths.

Vehicle safety regulations should ensure that all new motor vehicles meet applicable minimum regulations for the protection of occupants and other road users, with seat belts, airbags and active safety systems fitted as standard equipment.

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