STILL ON ”ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”

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I know that COVID-19 is a killer. I also know that COVID-19 is a scary global pandemic. I must however state here that since the first road traffic crash, road traffic deaths has increasingly been on the rise and the data provided in the last two weeks says it all. In the data, I told you of the global efforts through the platform of the United Nations Decade of Actions for Road Safety,2011-2020. I also told you of the initial key facts such as the annual death of 1.25 million lives globally and 20-50million injuries which has now risen to approximately 1.35 million people yearly, amounting to an average of 3,700 deaths daily.

I also reminded you that road traffic injuries have become the leading cause of death for people aged 15-44years and affect mainly males which is about 73percent. These fact sheets explain why the WHO warned that, road traffic crashes will increase to become the leading cause of death by 2030 without concrete interventions. The goal of the Decade is to reduce deaths by 50 percent by this year 2020. This same emphasis was made in February 2020 during the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety hosted at the request of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly by the Government of Sweden and World Health Organisation(WHO) in Stockholm with the theme, “Achieving Global Goals 2030”.

The Ministerial Conference through the “Stockholm Declaration”, called for a new global target to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50percent by 2030. The Declaration sought for strengthened efforts on interventions in all five pillars of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action.I need to remind you that unlike COVID-19 which has presently killed more in developed countries, the reverse is the case with road traffic deaths as developing countries account for about 85 percent of annual deaths and about 90 percent of the disability.

The fact sheet presented shows that the younger people like us are the endangered species who must be active in redressing the trend. While not much sustained efforts are visible here, I must doff my hat for the Global Youth Statement on Road Safety which is encouraging and which I hope our youths will emulate the Assembly especially against the backdrop of this development and the platform provided by the Federal Road Safety Corps for Youth engagement through the Road Safety Clubs and even the Special Marshal Scheme

To drive home the point of my focus on youth engagement in road safety activities and the risks faced by youths, I will look at countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America who despite the level of infrastructural development as well as increased road safety interventions and road safety advocacies are battling deaths. I will start with the United Kingdom where available fact sheet on road casualties indicates that in 2018, there were 1784 people killed in Britain while for the same period, 25,511 people sustained various degrees of injuries. The fact sheet also reveals that there was a total of 160,597 casualties of all severities in road traffic crashes. The highest number of fatalities were car users, both drivers and passengers, who accounted for 44percent of road deaths.

Of the 1784 deaths, 58percent occurred on rural roads. Averagely, five people die daily in Great Britain with countless injured. The figure for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland differ. Before I bore you with these details, let me first take you through deaths by demography. The fact sheets by demography indicates that in 2018, child fatalities for those aged between 0-15 years in Great Britain was 48. The total number of child casualties decreased by 9percent to 14,266. The record also reveals that majority of child fatalities were mainly pedestrians (28) or car passengers (15). The total number of people aged between 17-24years killed on Britain’s road stood at 279 in 2018 and 2017.

The fact sheet shockingly reveals that while young people account for only 7percent of driver’s license holders, they however represent over 20percent of drivers killed or seriously injured in road traffic crashes. Although our focus is on the younger population, it is vital to state here that the number of deaths among those aged 60years and above increased was 588 in 2018 as against 559 in 2017.

Although death by country is out of the scope of this write-up, I am however tempted to reflect some findings which should be of interest to those who assume that compliance with traffic rules especially rules on seat belt usage and use of phone while driving is only necessary on busy roads. The available figure shows that road traffic crashes is not a respecter of road type… it can occur even in rural areas and less busy roads. Road type as revealed in the data from the United Kingdom reveals that in 2018 ,58percent of deaths amounting to 1784 occurred on rural roads, yet the most casualties occurred on urban roads.

The data sheet also reveals that the number of people killed on built up roads of 20 mph in 2017 increased by 79percent on 2016 figure while the overall number of road crashes on 20 mph roads rose by 43percent over the same period. In the same vein, fatalities on built up roads of 30 mph fell by 1percent in 2017 from 2016 yet the number of serious injuries increased by 5percent. Deaths on motorway increased by 8percent to 107 in 2018. Before I am accused of being partial, let me round up discussion on UK by looking at the figure of casualties by road user type which indicates that car users’ fatalities (drivers and passengers) accounted for 44percent (777) of road deaths in the UK. Within the same period,456 pedestrians were killed while 99 cyclists died in 2018 although 354 motorcyclist fatalities occurred in 2018.

Before I conclude my focus for this week on the data from the United Kingdom, let me again state clearly that I chose the UK and the United States of America because of their levels of improved and concerted intervention in redressing road traffic crashes fatalities. Despite this sophistication, casualty rates still remain a burden. In contrast, we must always remember that as stated by the WHO, the rates of casualties among motorized four-wheeler occupants and pedestrians remain the highest in Africa. The report reveals that 43percent and 38percent of road traffic deaths involved motorized four-wheeler occupants and pedestrians. Most of the motorized four-wheeler occupants are passengers of commercial vehicles.

I hope by His Grace to focus on developments in the United States of America and would spend time examining the causative factors behind crashes involving this group of road users. My consolation for now is that two African Youths were at the forefront of the Youth Assembly which is an indication that African Youths are gearing up to take their place in the fight to curb road traffic crashes and fatalities.