Africa is taking the lead in a road race nobody wants to win. Our roads are statistically the most dangerous in the world.
Globally, about 18.2 people per 100,000 die as a result of road traffic accidents (RTA). With the weak enforcement of road safety regulations in some African countries, it may come as no surprise that Africa is ahead of other regions with 26.6 road traffic deaths per 100,000 people.
WHO’s report suggests that countries with fewer cars have more road traffic deaths than countries with more cars. RTAs in many African countries support this report with statistics.
According to the report, these countries account for about 1% of world vehicles and 27.5 road traffic deaths per 100,000 population, as against 8.3 road traffic deaths per 100,000 people in countries that account for 40% of vehicles globally.
These numbers point to individual and institutional problems that must be addressed if Africa must meet Target 3.6 of SDG 3 (50% reduction in the number of road traffic deaths by 2020).
What next? Manage the most pressing risks.
Hello to the Grave? Ignore that phone.
Speeding and drunk-driving are responsible for several road traffic deaths but these are not the most common cause of road traffic accidents. Distracted drivers account for most RTAs. With social media, emails, texts and calls, many drivers find it hard to ignore the beeping messages, ringing phones or wandering thoughts.
In many African countries such as Nigeria and Kenya, it is illegal to use your mobile phone without a handsfree device while driving but laws like this are easily and frequently ignored and there are few officers to honestly enforce them. The onus lies on us to adhere to these rules for personal safety and the safety of other road users.
Don’t arrive ahead of your time. Avoid over-speeding and drunk driving.
Between 5-35% of road traffic accidents are alcohol-related. The campaign against drunk-driving and responsible drinking must be amplified by individuals and corporate bodies that are directly and indirectly involved in the alcoholic beverage and automobile industries. Also, most African highways have speed limits and government officials try to enforce these limits, but road traffic deaths have been increasing annually in Africa.
African leaders must provide health infrastructure and personnel for timely treatment of road traffic accident victims. This health infrastructure gap largely contributes to the number of road traffic deaths in low-income countries.
Almost all road traffic deaths are caused by human error and negligence. Road signs, warnings and speed limits should not be ignored. Obeying simple traffic laws, like using a seatbelt or using a helmet, can save lives on our roads and change the numbers that are painting Africa as a continent with death-trap highways.
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