Thursday 24 October 2019

Why it's vital we ALL take a leading role in road safety

UN week highlights stark figures of numbers killed on world roads

Stock image
Stock image

RSA Expert

THE fifth UN global road safety week runs from May 6-12 this year.

The UN established the event in 2007.

The first one was dedicated to young road users.

It reflected the fact that crashes were the leading cause of death worldwide among those aged 15-29. And they were the second leading cause of death among those aged 5-14.

Subsequent road safety weeks have focused on pedestrian safety, keeping children safe, speed as a factor in deaths etc.

This year comes the call to be leaders in road safety.

The reason is clear: nearly 1.25 million people globally die in road crashes each year.

That's an average of 3,287 deaths a day.

In addition, 20-50 million are injured or disabled each year.

Road traffic crashes rank as the ninth leading cause of death.

They account for 2.2pc of all deaths globally.

On a positive note, however, a number of countries, including Ireland, have shown that by putting safety strategies in place and taking action on education, enforcement and engineering we can reduce road trauma.

By taking specific action on drink/drug driving, speeding, wearing seatbelts and highlighting the vulnerability of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, a significant number of lives can be saved.

To demonstrate this: in 2007, 338 people were killed on Irish roads.

In 2018, that number had been reduced to 146. While every life lost is one too many, it still means hundreds of families have been spared the grief of losing a loved one.

But we need to do more. The Government's 2013-2020 aims to reduce fatalities to 124 or fewer by 2020. Reaching that target will be challenging; reducing fatalities on our roads is not getting easier. There are no 'quick wins' left. We cannot work alone; we need the support of many, most importantly people like you.

That is why the theme of this year's UN week is so important. It focuses on leadership for road safety with the Save Lives, #SpeakUp campaign.

We can all be leaders. And we can ensure drivers are doing the responsible thing by not speeding or drink driving. We can all set the example by behaving safely on the road, acting as role models, especially young people; advocating for better laws and enforcement and supporting those who have been affected by crashes.

There are some who would argue they are speaking up and not being listened to.

Unless those in positions of leadership listen and act in the interests of the majority when it comes to road safety, nothing will change.

We in the RSA meet road safety leaders every day.

We meet families who have lost loved ones, those working to ensure other families don't suffer similar grief, teachers delivering valuable lessons to young people on how to be safe on our roads, communities and businesses who work to protect all roads users.

Yes, we can all be leaders. We can all #SpeakUp for road safety and take action.

Can you be a leader during this UN Global Road Safety Week? And every week?

Irish Independent

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