Today is the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are 1.24 million road traffic deaths every year and Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) are the number one cause of death among those aged 15-29 years. However, it is the young and the elderly who are most vulnerable on our roads.
Here in Scotland I recently discovered that there is a framework for road safety in Scotland, which was drawn up in 2009. As part of this framework there is a 0% casualty target for the year 2020. Sadly in Scotland over the last four years there has been a rise in the number of vulnerable road users killed or seriously injured, which suggests that the strategy currently in place is failing badly and needs to be revised.
Here are a few headlines from the last few days. This is not an extensive list, just a short snapshot:
Girl killed in lorry accident named
Woman killed in two-vehicle crash
Motorist dies day after car crash
Woman seriously injured in A9 crash
Just in case you didn’t know today is World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2012. It is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year – to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families and many others also affected, as well as reflect on the tremendous burden and cost of this daily continuing disaster.
Why do we need such a day? Well death on the roads is now so common it doesn’t always get reported in the press and it is not taken seriously in our courts (a president set after the death of Bridget Driscoll in 1896). It has been estimated that over 1% of people alive today in England and Wales have lost a close family member in a fatal road traffic crash, since 1971. This includes 131,399 parents who had lost a child and 107,384 offspring who had lost a parent. The authors of the paper these figures came from concluded that “this may imply a greater public health burden of road traffic crashes than previously estimated”. Yet out elected leaders still don’t want to take it seriously. They could clamp down on driving offences, or take practical steps to make our roads safer, such as lowing and enforcing speed limits, and providing safer infrastructure. It is time we called an end to this carnage, we have to stop drivers getting away with murder, manslaughter, unlawful killing, or death by misadventure, these deaths are not mere “accidents”, that all tragedies.
Let us all take a moments silence to remember Mrs Bridget Driscoll of Croydon who died 113 years ago today, in 1896, the first pedestrian to be knocked down and killed by a motor vehicle on a British road. She apparently froze in panic at seeing the oncoming vehicle, a witnesses said that the car, driven by Arthur Edsel, was travelling at a “reckless pace”. Apparently the car was being driven at 4 mph (although the car had a maximum speed was 8 miles per hour, the diver claimed it had been limited deliberately to 4 miles per hour) so why did the driver not stop or drive round her? Since then hundreds of thousands more have died on our roads (and that is undoubtedly an under estimate), which begs the questions: why do we continue to let drivers get away with it, and when will this carnage ever end?