A journey towards road peace - Stanley Palisada

by Stanley Palisada, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 15 2009 05:00 PM | Updated as of Nov 16 2009 01:07 AM

I have been working in the news business long enough to see lives ruined (literally or figuratively) by road accidents. Next to gory crimes, road mishaps are usually a main fare of newscasts.

A road kill is never a field day for news reporters. It is a difficult and unsightly coverage, not for the faint hearted. A journalist must also portray in his story, the emotions of survivors or victims’ families. As with any unexpected and tragic experience, a road accident is laced with blood, gore, violence, hysteria, rage and extreme inconsolable grief.

Road accidents are steadily rising. In the Philippines alone, the growing popularity of motorbikes is causing a spike in motorcycle deaths. But many motorcycle riders remain hard headed, unfazed by their daily doze of motorcycle accidents on TV. It is only in the Philippines where it takes a police arrest just to compel one to wear a helmet. Unbelievable.

Road congestion in big cities also causes road rage. Many accidents in killer avenue EDSA are due to a hot headed, speeding driver trying to make his way out of a gridlock. Many pedestrians are also oblivious to road dangers as though road safety is purely a driver’s concern. In rural areas unsafe roads continue to claim lives as well. And this will persist until the government realizes it’s bad to build roads on the edge of cliffs, or scrimp on necessary road signs.

Road safety is also not part of our culture. All over the country traffic rules are being trivialized and dismissed as mere suggestions and not as laws to be obeyed. 

But it’s not just in the Philippines. A road accident is now a leading killer around the world that the United Nations is already regard it a wholesale killer as war, plagues and pandemics.

Bacolod-based Road Safety Advocate May Altarejos-Cueva shares alarming global road accident statistics:

  1. About 3,000 people are killed or hurt in road accidents daily (one death in every 6 seconds) 10% of which are children, making road accidents deadlier than AIDS or the H1N1 virus.
  2. The World Health Organization predicts road accidents will be a major killer of children by 2015. Already some 260,000 children die in roads each year.
  3. Globally, road accidents kill over a million people annually while millions more who survive them are disabled for life. This underscores the economic impact of accidents such as decreased or total loss of family income if the victim is bread winner.
  4. Road crashes are the leading cause of deaths of children and young people aged 10 to 24 years old, and the 3rd leading cause of death for people 24 to 44 years old
  5. Over 90% of road deaths occur in low and middle income countries such as the Philippines.

November 15 marks the 4th World Remembrance Day for Road Crash Victims. The United Nations marked the day for the world to remember lives lost in road accidents and highlight the plight of loved ones and survivors who continue to cope with such tragic events.

The United Nations also amplifies a global call for safer roads, by raising individual and governmental road safety consciousness. Everyone on the planet must be committed to road peace by being responsible motorists and pedestrians.

The UN also urges member countries to prioritize driver education, enforcement of traffic rules and building of safer roads. Member nations are expected to sign the Decade of Action in Moscow and commit to road peace.

An appeal is also made to everyone press for a more decisive action to ease road deaths. Everyone is enjoined to help save lives by promoting road peace on their social sites on November 15, 2009 as the world aims for zero road accidents on Sunday.

Cueva underlines a basic but often neglected fact that road accidents can be avoided if pedestrians are careful, drivers are responsible, and the government makes roads safer.

Come to think of it, a road death is never really an accident,