In the past decade, the highest number of motor accidents and deaths resulting from them had been recorded in 2015. Statistics of the National Council for Road Safety (NCRS) reveal this national dilemma to be more alarming than that of 2010. “Although there was a drop in these accidents and fatalities from 2011 to 2014, last year once again saw a dramatic increase in the road accidents with 2,796 deaths being recorded,” Chairman, National Council for Road Safety, Dr. Sisira Kodagoda explained. The Council, coming under the purview of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, which adopts a holistic approach to road safety- both from the road users’ perspective and from that of the state, has spearheaded several progressive schemes lately to optimize road safety for all citizens, Nation learns. International collaborations such as WHO-NCRS partnership are notable in this regard.
Declaring safety zones
Drunk-driving which was the leading contributory factor for road accidents a few years ago, is today replaced by excess speed and negligent driving. The latter, as Dr. Kodagoda asserts, includes both ignorance of road rules and callous aversion of them. The majority of these accidents involve motor bikes, amounting to 30% of total road accident induced deaths as at 2015. Among other causes of road accidents are defects in vehicles, negligence such as the use of mobile phones while driving and impairments in drivers, predominantly vision impairments.
“The findings of our studies both on drivers and pedestrians have revealed these and preventive measures the Council is striving to champion are aligned with those findings,” asserted NCRS Chairman who also maintains that there is an onus on the pedestrian as well in assuring safety on the road. “Often the finger is pointed at the driver, but nearly 50% of the pedestrians too need to take the blame for carelessly using the yellow crossing oblivious to the fast approaching vehicle.”
The expansion of yellow crossings had not been proportionate to the road development of the country. In order to achieve this, NCRS in collaboration with the Colombo Municipality and the UDA is to launch an expansion project of such crossings. Moreover, several ‘safety zones’ are to be declared within Colombo city limits and also in other parts of the country. “There are many schools within city limits which open to a main road, making children vulnerable to accidents. Such identified areas are to be declared safety zones and we have launched the pilot project near D.S. Senananayake College in Colombo,” explained Dr. Kodagoda. The project will be initiated shortly in Kandy.
It is learnt that altering the technologically-enabled safety devices in three-wheelers has propelled a significant proportion of road accidents. Disabling the safety lock on the front wheel of the three-wheelers enables the vehicle to turn it in a whirl which leads to the loss of balance in the vehicle, placing many lives at stake. Vehicles with poor parking lights and inadequate street lighting have also contributed to the death toll, says NCRS Chairman who cites several fatal accidents along A3, A4 and A9 routes.
NCRS-WHO collaboration which trains three-wheeler drivers in pre-hospital care is a timely and a progressive step. In recognition of the yeoman service they render especially in transporting the injured to the hospital, this programme awards certificates to those who have completed the training certificates. In addition, a first aid box will be installed in their vehicles. “In the event of an accident, while sophisticated vehicles will shun the bleeding injured, it is always a three-wheeler driver who will come forward to assist. This programme aims to cultivate self-esteem in them that they are a valuable stakeholder in society,” reflected Dr. Kodagoda.
Regulating school vans
A good number of school vans are among the nearly 500,000 vehicles which enter the Colombo city in the morning and as Chairman, NCRS observes, the ultimate aim of most of these school van drivers is to somehow reach the school gate on time with little heed to safety. “Most of these vans are not road worthy. They are in appalling conditions risking so many young lives.” Addressing this grave concern, NCRS together with the Motor Traffic Department is to launch an awareness programme during school vacation targeting school van drivers.
CTB-administered school transport programme Sisu Seriya is much sought after by many. To meet the ever increasing demand for this facility, which according to NCRS Chairman, assures optimum safety of children, the existing number is to be increased. To give more muscle to the existing motor traffic legislative provisions and to introduce new legislature to regulate vehicles, especially school vans, an international conference with the participation of both local and foreign experts is to take place in Colombo tomorrow.
(Statistics: Courtesy of National Council for Road Safety)
Number of road traffic accidents occurred in the island during six-year period, starting from 2010 to 2015
It is learnt that altering the technologically-enabled safety devices in three-wheelers has propelled a significant proportion of road accidents. Disabling the safety lock on the front wheel of the three-wheelers enables the vehicle to turn it in a whirl which leads to the loss of balance in the vehicle, placing many lives at stake
Number of deaths according to the road users