Alarmed at increasing road deaths, nations in WHO SEARO commits to increase safety measures

The release also highlighted the fact that in few countires almost 80 per cent road traffic deaths are of motorcycle riders.(Representational Image/Express File Photo by Narendra Vaskar) Top News

With incidents of deaths and injuries in road crashes growing at an alarming pace, primarily involving two-wheeler riders and other vulnerable road users (VRU), nations in WHO South-East Asia Region on Saturday committed to increase the action taken towards road safety.

A meeting on “Accelerating Actions for Implementation of Decade of Actions for Road Safety” was organized by WHO and Thailand in Phuket on Saturday. A statement released after the ministerial meeting on the reinforcement of commitment to UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 stated, “The Phuket Commitment calls for prioritization, high-level commitment, united efforts of all stakeholders, knowledge management, enforcement of regulations and time-bound deliveries.”

Data mentioned in the release said that the region accounts for more than one-quarter of the global road accident deaths, with at least 3,16,000 road crash deaths in the year 2013. It added that more than 50 per cent of these deaths were of VRU (comprising of pedestrians, cyclists and riders of powered two and three wheelers), primarily motorcyclists, and other two and three-wheeler riders. The release also highlighted the fact that in few countries almost 80 per cent road traffic deaths are of motorcycle riders.

“Countries across the Region need to drive and fast-track road safety initiatives with highest political commitment to effectively address road traffic injuries which continues to be a leading cause of death in the age group of 15 to 29 years, mostly motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia, said as member countries adopted ‘Phuket Commitment’ on road safety at a ministerial meeting.

The Regional Director emphasised on the fact that the region is witnessing a rise in the number of VRU, thus countries need to vigorously focus attention on this group in order to reduce the number of road crash deaths. The official also noted that electricity powered bikes pose significant road safety risks as they are silent, fast and do not require registration in many countries.

Prof Dr Piyasakol Sakolsataydorn, in his address said, “Everyone needs to participate and share the responsibility – the government, the ministries, the private sector, civil society organizations, non-government organizations, communities and the general public.”

Over 150 representatives from various sectors such as transport, vehicle standard regulators, police and health, from countries within and outside the Region participated in the meeting. It was also attended by the State Minister of Bangladesh, Mr Zahid Maleque, State Minister of Health Maldives, Dunya Maumoon who also sought accelerated implementation of UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 through ‘five road safety pillars’ – road safety management, safer road infrastructure, safer vehicles, safer road users and effective post-crash response.

The WHO South East Asia Region has 11 Member States: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste.

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