Each year worldwide, nearly 1.3 million people die as a result of a road traffic crash. That, on average, is 3,287 deaths a day. In simpler terms, it works out to 137 deaths an hour or more than two people dying every minute.
It doesn’t end there. An additional 20 to 50 million people each year sustain non-fatal injuries from a road traffic collision, and these injuries are a significant cause of disability. Worldwide, road trauma is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 29 and the eighth leading cause of death globally.
Road safety is a global issue. It’s one of the most urgent matters facing society today. Unless action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.
Every Member of Parliament, Mayor and elected member proclaims that they’re committed to the safety of their residents. Every government agency is striving to reduce serious road injuries and deaths. But road crashes aren’t decreasing. In many locations the death toll is increasing.
Too many people die on our roads, and the impacts are devastating. The financial costs are enormous, and the social and emotional effects are even greater. So what actions can we all take right now to help prevent road traffic deaths or injuries around the world?
We need to get tough
The sad truth is, most road crashes are largely preventable. Over 95 per cent of all road traffic accidents are said to be the result of human error. We’re all too busy, always in a rush to get to work or drop the kids at school. Multi-tasking with a take-away coffee in one hand, mobile phone in the other when we are meant to be driving the car. It’s time for everyone to start taking responsibility for their actions rather than blaming the road, the weather or their car.
A recent article highlighted a businesswoman in Sydney, Australia who lost her driving licence for six months as a result of multiple speeding offences. She had to employ a nanny to take her kids to school, a chauffeur to take her to business meetings and a carer to take her elderly mother to medical appointments. All of this cost her $55,000. She said the inconvenience and the financial costs were what was needed to make her change her dangerous driving behaviours.
We need to get training
Truth is, most roads are generally not dangerous. The problem is, more often than not, the individual behind the steering wheel is dangerous. We’ve all seen them; tailgating, speeding, dangerously overtaking and ignoring line markings. For what? Invariably because they are busy; in a rush, running late and didn’t leave home on time. It’s time for everyone to learn – or to be taught and trained – how to travel at the national speed limit rather than blaming the time it takes to get from A to B or other people using the road.
We all go through the ‘Santa Claus Stage.’ It’s a time in life, normally up to the age of eight years old, when children believe almost everything that their parents, carers, close family members – and the TV and movies – tell them. What all this really means is that if you tell your young kids – or that they hear you say – that speeding, driving dangerously and breaking the law are ok, then your children will also spend the rest of their lives unconsciously thinking and doing the same.
If our Members of Parliament, Mayors and elected members really are committed to the safety of their residents, and if our government agencies really are striving to reduce serious road injuries and deaths, then we all need to take action right now to help prevent road traffic deaths and injuries. If we all start taking responsibility for our actions and learn how to travel at the national speed limit, then road safety might not be one of the most urgent matters facing society today.