Raise road safety awareness; reduce road crash deaths

E CARTOON MAY 26, 2024.jpg

“Road traffic injuries are a major yet often neglected public health issue. Deaths and injuries from road crashes are preventable, and all sectors have a role to play in promoting road safety.” This is a message that the World Health Organization (WHO) has delivered many times in the past years, and is still very relevant today.

Today, at the culmination of the UN Global Road Safety Week held annually every third week of May, let us review some facts and figures about the reasons the WHO holds this annual campaign to raise awareness about road safety and the importance of taking steps to prevent accidents:

• Approximately 1.19 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
• Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged  five to 29 years.
• Ninety-two percent of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low- and middle-income countries, even though these countries have around 60 percent of the world's vehicles.
• More than half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
• The United Nations General Assembly has set an ambitious target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2030. 
In the Philippines, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the WHO, in commemoration of Road Safety Month and the UN Global Road Safety week, launched the Philippine Road Safety Action Plan 2023-2028 which is anchored on prevention and built on five strategies to create a safer road environment.

“The DOTr takes road safety seriously. Its approach is anchored on prevention. In fact, majority of transport projects are aligned toward promoting road safety. After the official release of the Philippine Road Safety Action Plan, it is high time to put it in action and ensure significant reduction of deaths on the road,” said DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista.

The five pillars of the action plan are: road safety management; safer roads through infrastructure design and maintenance; safer vehicles by enhancing vehicle registration and inspection systems; safer road users by increasing public awareness; and post-crash response or care of victims.
In the Philippines, deaths caused by road accidents increased by 39 percent in 2021 with 11,096 deaths recorded, from the 7,938 deaths in 2011, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among Filipinos 15 to 29 years old, and a major killer among children, the DOTr report said.
“Together with the DOTr, WHO is committed to working with all concerned agencies and organizations that share the vision of safer roads for everyone. Let us all #RethinkMobility and save lives from road crashes,” said Dr. Rui Paulo de Jesus, WHO Representative to the Philippines.

In the past years, there have been many organizations that have participated in road safety programs. Mostly conducted by automotive companies, those included sessions for young pedestrians to recognize important road and traffic signs, and safety driving clinics for private and public utility vehicle drivers.  The Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists (SPMJ) had published road safety teaching modules for elementary and secondary school students which were distributed to several public and private schools. A non-profit organization conducted the “Walk This Way” pedestrian safety program for school children and parents.

We encourage government and private sector collaboration to extend the road safety awareness campaigns to more people, especially to the young who will eventually be on the roads as motorists, commuters or pedestrians.

Keeping our roads safe needs the cooperation of everyone.