Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Traffic Deaths Preventable, WHO Says in Call For Road Safety

I am passionate about safety on the road and tough enforcement against reckless driving.
Here's an article I'd like to share. I need to point out that in terms of (most of the) best practices mentioned, Malaysia has been applying them. Imagine that the USA is named as a culprit.
Nevertheless, we need to move forward making our roads safe for everyone.
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - Countries must introduce tougher laws to prevent drivers from speeding or drinking and help reduce the toll of 1.25 million people killed each year in traffic accidents, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The United States, Indonesia and Nigeria are among countries failing to apply best practices, the WHO's Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015.
Car-makers can also play their part, a WHO expert said. Too often safety features are sacrificed in order to keep down car prices, Dr. Etienne Krug said.
"Better laws are needed on speed, drinking and driving, use of motorcycle helmets, seat belts and child restraints," WHO director-general Margaret Chan said, launching the report.
Halving the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020 is among the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals adopted last month by world leaders.
Cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable, accounting for 49 percent of fatalities, it said.
Chan said that low and medium income countries accounted for 85 percent of road traffic deaths despite having 54 percent of the world's vehicles. Europe has the lowest death rates and Africa the highest.
Road safety measures include better safety features on vehicles, the report said.
"We are talking about some rather simple and basic things such as seat belts, such as front-impact regulations, such as electric stability control," Krug said.
"The vast majority of cars being produced around the world are still not up to the best safety standards. Very often in many places the safety of vehicles is sacrificed in order to have improvements in prices," he said.
Better trauma care for victims is also key, Krug said.
"And that does not necessarily need to be expensive. Very often the assumption is that we need more helicopters and very fancy ambulances.
"In fact, a very basic ambulance with minimum equipment and people who are trained in simple (life-saving) measures could do a lot of good."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that city had cut traffic deaths to historic lows by making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and it was possible to do that around the world.
"Traffic crashes are something like the ninth leading cause of death in the world. They are the number one cause of death for people aged 15-29," he said. "The fact is that every one of those deaths really is preventable."
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Increase Targeted Road Policing to Reduce Rising Deaths on theRoad, says RoSPA

This is an article from RoSpa dated Sept 29 2015

Although this is about road safety in Britain, Malaysian authorities response for road safety can pick up on some of the ideas. 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says more needs to be done to protect vulnerable road users after new figures reveal a rise in the number of deaths on Britain’s roads.
The family safety charity is advocating a range of solutions to drive down the number of deaths and life-changing injuries on Britain’s roads, including ensuring there are sufficient numbers of police targeting careless drivers who put themselves and others at risk.
Statistics released today by the Department for Transport show an increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured, in particular pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, last year (2014) compared to 2013.
RoSPA is concerned, as the figures show a  4 per cent rise in deaths to 1,775. Of particular concern is the number of vulnerable road users being killed or injured. Three-quarters of the increase in deaths were pedestrian casualties, meaning that last year one in four people killed on the road were pedestrians. There were also 16,727 child casualties in 2014 - up 6.2 per cent on the previous year.
Cyclists also still account for a disproportionately high number of casualties, with 113 killed in 2014. Worryingly, there was a huge rise in the number of cyclists being seriously injured, from 3,143 to a total of 3,401. This number has been increasing almost every year since 2004.
Motorcyclist deaths rose by 2 per cent from 331 in 2013 to 339 in 2014, and there was an increase of more than 400 who were seriously injured, taking the number to 5,628 in 2014, a rise of 9 per cent. Overall motorcyclist casualties increased from 18,752 to 20,366, an increase of 9 per cent.
There were almost 200,000 casualties last year on Britain’s roads - the first overall increase since 1997.
Traffic levels also rose by 2.4 per cent in 2014, which may account partly for the increase in deaths and injuries on our roads.
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager at RoSPA, said: “As our economy improves, we can expect traffic levels to continue to increase, so we must do everything we can to make sure this does not lead to even more increases in road crashes and casualties.
“The reductions in road death and injury in recent years will not automatically be sustained, without a continued commitment to road safety. We must remain focussed on making our roads safer for everyone, and especially for people travelling on foot and by two wheels.
“The number of pedestrian fatalities involving those over 60 has increased by 16 per cent, together with a 7 per cent increase in car occupants. With an aging population we must renew our efforts to reverse this phenomenon.
“It is estimated that between 240 and 340 people were killed in Great Britain when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit. We must renew our efforts to highlight the dangers of drink driving.”
RoSPA advocates a comprehensive road strategy to help prevent deaths and life-changing injuries. Many of these will directly help to make urban driving safer, as that saw a 9 per cent increase in fatalities to 783. Measures would include:
  • Ensuring there are sufficient numbers of road police officers to properly enforce road safety laws, with more targeted road policing at the minority of drivers who put themselves and others at risk by speeding, drink driving and using mobile phones
  • A reduction in the drink-drive limit in England and Wales to 50mg per 100ml of blood, to match Scotland and most of Europe – in 2014, around 6.2 per cent of drivers said they had probably driven while over the current legal limit of 80mg
  • The introduction of a package of measures to reduce crashes involving young drivers, such as graduated driver licensing
  • Help for employers to reduce the risks their staff face and create when they drive or ride for work
  • Creation of a safe cycling environment and improvement of driver and cyclist attitudes and behaviour towards each other, to reduce cyclist casualties and help people who want to cycle, but are deterred from doing so because they think it is not safe enough
  • Introducing safer vehicles into our fleet as quickly as possible as vehicle technology improves
  • Adopting Single/Double Summer Time
Maximising the road safety benefits of telematics and similar technologies for young drivers, businesses and commercial drivers.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Manic Malaysians On The Road

I reproduce an article I did for my Saturday column in the New Straits Times in 2012. 

And why am I reproducing this? This could be an article I had just written today.
When I wrote this in 2012, accidents were still on high, Mat Rempits were king of the road after midnight , people were still going about "business as usual" on the road.

And today... business as usual despite experts having come out with recommendations and suggestions.

Malaysia continue to assume a reputation of having some of the most dangerous city and town roads. -NST  
Nuraina Samad

Sun, Apr 29, 2012
New Straits Times

When I obtained my driver's licence in 1974, the first thing my father did was to remind me to stay clear of motorcyclists on the road. Indeed, I feared knocking into any of them because as he would say, "You know, he could be the sole breadwinner of his family" or something to that dramatic effect.

I often held his advice close to my heart. Images of an injured motorcyclist sprawled on the road and his weeping family looking woefully at me would play in my mind. But heck, what did I know? I was just 17.

Then I, of course, wisened up. Over the years, I grew to be a bit hardened and a little less merciful to motorcyclists on the road. Steadily, most of them did not appear to be road users who deserved my undivided compassion.

Fast forward to 2012 and I still make sure I stay clear of motorcyclists. But that little reminder my father gave me has been somewhat obscured by the harsh reality on the road over the years.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam earlier this week disclosed that of the 59,897 accidents reported last year to the Social Security Organisation (Socso), 24,809 were people commuting to work daily, of whom most were motorcyclists.

These statistics represent only those reported to Socso which means that the figure could be higher because there are other victims outside Socso's radar. Besides, we all know there are many motorcyclists who do not have a licence and those who are underaged.

The report also found that 53 per cent of the victims were aged 35 and below which Dr Subramaniam lamented meant that Malaysia was "losing workers who were in their prime".

Dr Subramaniam also said that this had prompted the ministry to draw up a safety campaign to raise awareness and to reduce the number of incidents.

Clearly, this is all so worrying. But this is nothing new. Previous studies on accidents showed that motorcyclists formed the largest number of casualties.

I'm not sure what is deficient in enforcement of traffic violations because we get summonses for speeding, parking in non-designated areas, double-parking and other offences -- either from the police or local councils.

Yet every day, and this is no exaggeration, I am confronted with incomprehensible and dangerous traffic violations by motorcyclists. Every day. Beginning in the morning at the first set of traffic lights near my house in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

Either Malaysians, at least Klang Valley denizens, are such a hardy, forgiving, tolerant and laid-back lot that they have accepted the shenanigans of motorcylists with a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy, or they simply go with the flow. Whatever it is, it is not going to help make the situation on the roads better.

We will not see the statistics on accidents easing up. Or have we forgotten that Malaysia has one of the highest numbers of road accidents in the world? Motorcyclists are the victims in accidents, yet most of them get away with murder on the road.

Let me just give a lowdown of the offences they commit everyday -- beating traffic lights, entering no-entry roads, making illegal u-turns in dangerous areas, speeding on any road, having defective tail-lights, not wearing helmets or carrying more than one pillion rider including children (especially in certain housing estates, Wangsa Maju and Setiawangsa come to mind) and the list goes on.

If scores of them have got away happily with these dangerous misdemeanours, then the message is clear to these serial offenders -- that it is okay to break these traffic laws. They don't apply to motorcyclists.

Malaysians shouldn't be blasé about this state of affairs. I know I am not. I honk at these inconsiderate and dangerous road users all the time.

Most of us who have travelled to countries where road users faithfully abide by traffic rules enjoy and appreciate the civility and safety on the road.

Surely among us are policymakers. Yet, we continue to assume a reputation of having some of the most dangerous city and town roads.

Have road safety awareness campaigns helped us in inculcating better habits on the road? Your guess is as good as mine.

I echo the sentiments of road safety advocates that enforcement needs to be stepped up and continually carried out. There should be no compromise.