Pondering over Road Traffic Crisis

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ROAD SAFETY ARTICLE

The United Nations Decade of Actions for Road Safety,2011-2020 highlights the need for improved road safety interventions. It was predicated on certain key facts. Fact number one is that yearly, road traffic crashes kills nearly 1.25 million lives globally and 20-50million injuries. Second fact is that road traffic injuries have become the leading cause of death for people aged 15-29years.Third fact is that over 90percent of road traffic deaths and injuries occur in low and middle income countries which have only 48percent of the worlds registered vehicles.

Nearly half of those who die through road traffic crashes are vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Another fact is that Road traffic crashes causes grief and suffering as well as considerable economic losses to victims, their families and nation. Again, road traffic crashes cost countries about 3percent of their gross domestic product. Based on these scary facts, it was predicted that if nothing concrete was done, road traffic crashes will increase to become the leading cause of death by 2030.The goal therefore was to reduce deaths by half by 2020.

As we ponder over the current pandemic, I cannot remember if the World Health Organisation gave any prior warning of COVID-19. But I know that WHO has consistently warned against a rise in road traffic crashes and deaths world over which is why I am at a loss as to why the coincidence in the global lockdown caused by COVID-19 and the rise in global road traffic deaths and crashes. This piece is not meant to scare but to remind us that this year 2020 is the year the World Health Organisation(WHO) declared and warned that if the global road traffic crashes trend should continue, road traffic injuries will become the third-leading contributor to the global burden of disease and injury.

When WHO gave this warning, road traffic crashes globally were the leading cause of death by injury and the tenth-leading cause of all deaths globally and accounted for a significant portion of the global burden of ill-health. Remember like I said earlier, that the figure was an estimated 1.25 million people killed in road crashes yearly and as many as 50 million injured. It was predicted to become the third-leading contributor to the global burden of disease and injury by 2020.As you read this piece, the global figure has risen from 1.25million in 2013 to 1.35million deaths annually killing 3,700 daily with more than half of those killed are pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.

Just like it was in 2013 or before, developing countries such as Nigeria still bear a large chunk, accounting for about 85 percent of annual deaths and about 90 percent of the disability. In addition, road traffic injuries affect mainly males which is about 73 percent of deaths and those between 15 and 44 years old.

Like COVID-19, road traffic accidents (RTAs) is a public health issue which demands multi-disciplinary approach and shared responsibility. The number of fatalities needs to be tackled by all through strict enforcement, increased awareness, personal responsibility just like we all are doing with COVID-19, private sector involvement and scientific engineering. Despite this reality, we daily drive even in the face of the global pandemic as if nothing has changed.

When God divinely defeats COVID-19 pandemic, I know nothing will change in our driving although my friend Brigadier-General Umaru Wambai, mni thinks differently. Please read though this material he shared on the lesson of COVID-19 which for me calls for sober reflection especially with regards to the place of the Almighty God, the Creator on our lives as individuals and as nations. As we pray for God’s mercies to save humanity, I do hope that the lesson in the word of my friend will not be short-lived. Before I sound too emotional, let me first share the material. But while you read remember to place God as first in everything.Enjoy the piece

‘’Suddenly nobody is thinking about business. Nobody is planning when to travel. Nobody is busy reading for an examination. Nobody is saving for vacation. Clubbing is not even coming to mind. Some people have even ignored their boyfriends/girlfriends. Our communities that were overpopulated have suddenly been rid of hold ups and congestion. No more rushing to work and catching the early bus.

Earning a degree is no longer the priority. Spending lavishly on parties is no longer a trend. Hotels and brothels are shut down. Gluttony is now frowned at. People now have a sense of management. We now understand that going to church is not the same as going to God.

Money has become useless to the rich! Wealth has failed the wealthy. Corruption is exposed. The powerful is rendered powerless. Fathers now understand what it means to have a family. Some mothers have understood how risky it is to place their children above their husbands.

People now realise that above the hustle and bustle, it is life that matters. That is the most important thing. That, and how we care for and look after those around us. This is the time when many will learn to love unconditionally. Some politicians will turn a new leaf when this is all over. Don’t get me wrong: I said some. Cleanliness will be studies in schools, and mothers will teach their children to be neat.

Some pastors will learn that it is better to build men than to build blocks: of what use are those beautiful edifices now when your members don’t even feel like today is Sunday? Education will no longer be a do-or-die affair: professors are in their rooms now, their certificates and degrees totally useless. We will now learn to depend and check on each other: do you see how many stay safe messages you have received?

I’m not sure if convid-19 is the handwork of men or a divine arrangement. But one thing I know: when this is over, a little sanity will be restored to the world and the world will move back a few centuries, when men hadn’t lost their sense of being human’’.