Road Accidents

Road Accidents Make Sure To Wear A Helmet

Road accidents are a major public health problem in Asia and the Pacific, with some 10 million people severely injured or killed annually on the region's roads, the World Health organization has warned.

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for about 60% of global road deaths, despite having only 16% of the world's vehicles. Road deaths jumped by nearly 40% in Asia between 1987 and 1995 - while in developed nations, they fell by about 10% because of better safety measures.

WHO estimates that if current trends continue, road accidents will be the third global cause of disease or injury by 2020, after heart disease and depression, with the numbers of those killed and disabled up by 60%

Given the magnitude and urgency of the issue, road safety is the theme for WHO's World Health Day. The slogan is Road safety is no accident.

Roads have been the gateway for the development in the region, said Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO's Regional Director for the Western Pacific, which covers East Asia and the Pacific. But tragically, roads are where many people are injured, disabled or killed. Road deaths are needless, brutal and devastating for victims' families. This is a public health crisis which demands our attention.

While motorization and urbanization are escalating, road infrastructure, safety measures and trauma care lag behind. Drivers often have poor safety awareness and violate traffic regulations. Many vehicles are not roadworthy.

We tend to be fatalistic about road crashes, but these 'accidents' are rarely random, uncontrollable events, said Dr Hisashi Ogawa, WHO's Regional Adviser in Healthy Settings and Environment for the Western Pacific Region. Much can be done to prevent injuries and save lives, he said. That is why the slogan for this year's campaign is Road safety is no accident.

Key preventive measures include the use of seat belts, restrictions on speed and alcohol intake, and enhanced vehicle standards and road design and conditions. In many Asian countries, these essential measures are lacking, although a number of programmes to promote seat belts or traffic regulations are on-going. Most injuries among motorcycle riders are to the head, so helmets could significantly reduce road trauma.

Road accidents are a huge economic drain. Research indicates that the direct costs of road crashes in Thailand are as high as 3% of annual GDP. This does not even include costs from lost productivity.

Road safety must involve everyone, said Dr Ogawa. Roads in the region are already dangerous and are getting worse. Together we have to act now to save lives.

Author Notes:

Mike Wozniak contributes and publishes news editorial to  A buyers guide to all types of motorcycle helmets plus shields, goggles, custom and wired radio helmets.

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