By Khalifa Hemed
Published May 15, 2017
Excessive speed is the main reason behind road traffic injuries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) of the United Nations says the majority of deaths occur among males and the younger and economically active age groups (15–44 years), with serious implications for health and development.
Studies indicate that typically 40%–50% of drivers do not adhere to speed limits. Excessive and inappropriate speed contributes to about one third of fatal road traffic crashes in high-income countries and up to half in low-income countries.
Speaking during the 4th UN Global Road Safety Week in Cairo, Egypt, Dr Mahmoud Fikri, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean on May 14, 2017, noted that “Addressing road traffic injuries has been designated as a priority area for the WHO Regional Office over the next five years with the aim of supporting countries in their efforts to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our roads and address this key public health issue.”
The Eastern Mediterranean Region accounts for almost 10% of global road traffic deaths and has the second highest road traffic fatality rate in the world after WHO’s African Region.
Prior to the fourth UN Global Road Safety Week, 8–14 May 2017, WHO had released a new report entitled: “Managing speed” which argues that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to 1 in 3 of road traffic fatalities worldwide.
Arguing that a 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in fatal road traffic crashes, WHO contends that efforts for speed management as part of a comprehensive safe system approach to achieve road safety-related goals of the Decade of Action of Road Safety 2011–2020 and the targets of Sustainable Development Goals nust be strengthened.
Such measures include:
- building or modifying roads to include features that calm traffic, such as roundabouts and speed bumps
- establishing speed limits appropriate to the function of each road
- enforcing speed limits through the use of manual and automated controls
- installing in-vehicle technologies in new cars, such as intelligent speed assistance and autonomous emergency braking; and
- raising awareness about the dangers of speed.