Editorial comment – Making a change on our roads

Students in Savusavu with their new road safety equipment. Picture SUPPLIED

Students in Savusavu with road safety equipment. Picture: FILE

ROAD safety campaigns are nothing new for us. In fact they aren’t a brand new concept. For as long as we have had roads, we’ve probably had equal attention on road safety. There has to be a balance anyway.

The challenge though is getting that balance, when road users appreciate the need for vigilance and take ownership of safety.

Road safety then takes on a very important role in the campaign to maximise on awareness and minimise injuries or even death because of accidents.

Lorima Tuisasa, 23, is the country’s latest road victim after he was allegedly hit by a bus while riding a bike on Tuesday near Naqarani Village in Rewa.

He was originally from Mau Village in Namosi. He belonged to a family.

His cousin Tevita Suwai said they were at a farm and then at around 6pm “he went cycling on the road just a few metres away from our house”.

“After a few minutes we heard a loud bang like something exploded on the road and I thought it was an accident involving a car and a bus. But when I ran to the scene I noticed my cousin’s bicycle thrown on the side of the road and a car passing by had taken him to Wainibokasi Hospital,” he said.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said the bus driver was taken in for questioning and a post-mortem examination would be conducted to ascertain the cause of death.

The road death toll now stands at 14 compared with nine for the same period last year.

The World Health Organization points out that 1.35 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.

In December 2018, it stated that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development had set an ambitious target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020. It stated road traffic crashes cost most countries 3 per cent of their gross domestic product, and among other issues, it stated, road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years. Between 20 and 50 million people, it stated, suffered non-fatal injuries, with many incurring disability as a result of their injury.

So what can be done to ease this worrying trend? Road traffic injuries, it stated, could be prevented.

Governments, it stated, needed to take action to address road safety in a holistic manner.

This requires involvement from multiple sectors such as transport, police, health, education and actions that address the safety of roads, vehicles, and road users.

Effective interventions, it stated, included designing safer infrastructure and incorporating road safety features into land-use and transport planning, improving the safety features of vehicles, improving post-crash care for victims of road crashes, setting and enforcing laws relating to key risks, and raising public awareness.

In all these though sits a critical factor.

You and I need to be proactive.

We must cast aside complacency, adopt an attitude that embraces safety and be catalysts for change.

Sometimes it’s the shock factor that just might prop us up, and force a rethink, and perhaps that might just be good for us all.

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