WHO has dedicated the World Health Day 2004 to “Road Safety”. According to WHO 1.2 million people are killed on roads every year and about 50 million more are injured. The pedestrians, cyclists and the motorcyclists are particularly at risk of road accidents. According to estimates India accounts for about 10 percent of road accident fatalities worldwide. Every year about 1,275,000 persons are grievously injured on the road.
According to WHO if the current trend continues the number of people killed and injured in road accidents around the world will rise by more than 60% by 2020. Road safety is a public health issue, which has to be given due importance. Although having a vehicle to commute has many benefits, it can also do serious harm unless safety is made a priority. However, with the help of an integrated approach (which addresses the vehicles, the people who use roads, and the road infrastructure) travelling on road can be made much safer.
Remember, road accidents are preventable. Highlighted below are some simple things that you are probably well-aware of but those that are important enough to be repeated and reemphasised:
- Drive slow. High speed driving is responsible for at least 30% of road accidents and deaths. For every 1 km/hr increase in speed there is a 3% increase in risk of road injury and 5% increase in risk of road deaths. According to estimates pedestrians are 8 times more at risk of being killed by cars racing at a speed of 50 km/hr as compared to 30 km/hr. Hence, slowing down your vehicle speed will not only be safe for you but for others as well.
- Always use seat belts and child restraints as these protect against serious injury and death. Using seat belts reduces the risk by 40-65% and child restraints decrease the risk of road death in infants by 71% and in young children by 54%.
- Do not drink and drive. Safe driving requires clear judgement, concentration, alertness and drinking alcohol can affect all of these, thereby increasing the risk of road accidents. In fact, the risk of accident increases significantly with blood alcohol concentrations more than 0.04g/dl. So stay away from alcohol and be safe!
- Never forget to wear your helmet. The main cause of death or serious injury in people driving two wheelers is head injury. Wearing helmets can therefore help in preventing serious head injuries and death.
- Proper visibility is essential to ensure safety on road. According to estimates vehicles using proper lights have 10-15% less risk of having road accidents as compared to those who do not use them. To ensure proper visibility at night time; make sure that your motor vehicle is well equipped with correct lighting equipment including headlights, tail lights and license plate light. While driving at night the lights should be kept on from sunset until sunrise. Keep the lights on during periods of rain, hail, fog etc. and during other periods when you cannot see the road clearly for a distance of at least 500 feet. This will ensure proper visibility not only to you but help others to see you as well