In the Philippines, records from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that an average of 34 persons are killed due to road crashes every day. Globally, a person dies every 25 seconds.
Recognizing the need for addressing one of the top ten killers in the world, the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) in collaboration with the International Road Assessment Programme (iRap) hosted the 10th annual Asia Pacific Road Safety Forum in Manila on 22-23 August.
The two-day conference converges some 250 road safety stakeholders and advocates from all over the Asia Pacific region to talk about helmet and child safety seat standards, road assessment programs, sharing of best practices and working together to halve the global deaths due to road crashes by 2020.
“The numbers have gone up to 1.34 million road crash fatalities per year,” says Global Road Safety Partnership CEO Dave Cliff.
Participants came from Thailand, Vietnam, India, China, Nepal, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
The World Health Organization launches a Save Lives package that provides countries with an easy and implementable priority list of actions on road safety.
“The save lives package talks about six key components and 22 interventions countries can base on to address road safety,” say Jonathon Passmore of the World Health Organization.
The six components in the WHO Save Lives package include speed management, leadership on road safety, infrastructure design and improvement, vehicle safety standards, enforcement and post-crash survival. All components help countries reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on road safety.
Rob McInerney, chief executive officer of iRap, also stressed the need for “3-stars or better” roads in the countries and presented studies that address economics and decrease in the number of road crash deaths and injury. A star-rating objectively measures the risk of death and serious injury on roads for pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and vehicle occupants.
Star ratings are raised by providing proven safety features like pedestrian crossings, safe intersection layouts, safety barriers and road markings.
According to studies made by WHO, road crashes are preventable citing risk factors involved. Because it is preventable, the use of road ‘crashes’ is more appropriate instead of ‘accidents’ to refer to traffic incidents.
In the Philippines, lawmakers push for new laws on road safety. Chairperson for the senate committee on health and demographics Sen JV Ejercito and congressional committee on transportation chairman Representative Cesar Sarmiento addressed the plenary on the Philippine context.
“Probably I am the only race car driver in the Senate, this is why I am an advocate of road safety” said Sen JV Ejercito, “we race on the tracks not on the road.”
Sen Ejercito has filed the Senate Bill 1447 on “child safety in motor vehicles” which mandates the use of child safety seats in private cars.
“Children are most vulnerable and rely on the caregiver to protect them,” says GRSP CEO Dave Cliff.
Recently, the Philippines has passed a number of laws on road safety including speed limiter act, anti-distracted driving act, and the children’s safety on motorcycle act.
“The president recently signed the extension of driver’s license from three years to five years and 10 years for drivers with no violations,” says Rep Sarmiento. “We make sure that actions undermining the integrity of the application process are penalized under the law. We do not want unqualified drivers being given license to drive.”
Sarmiento further underscored the weak implementation of road safety laws and low public awareness on the importance of road safety.
“As to strengthening the implementation of our road safety laws, our Committee continues to exercise its oversight function to enable the transport agencies to be true to the mandates given to them. For instance, we are reiterating to the Land Transportation Office to not just merely issue driver’s licenses and register vehicles. It must properly screen drivers and vehicles because that is the rationale behind licensing and registration.”
“The 34 people who die everyday due to road crash is not just a number. They are people with names and loved ones. They are precious lives taken away by government’s inaction and people’s ignorance,” Rep Sarmiento said. “Let us all be active partners in the matter of law enforcement and of heightening public’s awareness on the importance of road safety.” #
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