ALERT – World Day of Remembrance, the fight for road safety must step up | November 15, 2015
Today is the World Day of Remembrance for victims of road accidents. This November 15 is particularly important for the victims who, three days before the 2nd High Level Conference on Road Safety in Brasilia, intend to remind the world that it is a major challenge for public health. We asked Marius Lomboto Djosola about […]
Today is the World Day of Remembrance for victims of road accidents. This November 15 is particularly important for the victims who, three days before the 2nd High Level Conference on Road Safety in Brasilia, intend to remind the world that it is a major challenge for public health.
We asked Marius Lomboto Djosola about the consequences of unsafe roads, in DRC and globally, and the efforts required to meet this challenge, yet often overlooked by policy makers.
“Poor road safety caused many casualties, as other major public health issues, but countries tend to forget it when developing their budget. Even for the international community, this is not a priority. “– Marius Lomboto Djosola
The World Health Organisation’s new Global Report on Road Safety, though, paints a worrying picture. With only half of the world’s vehicle fleet, the low-income countries account for over 90% of road deaths. In Africa, the likelihood of road deaths increased by 3% in two years. In DRC, accidents and victims they generate are poorly reported, which distorts the estimates.
“There is no reliable data collection system in the DRC. The only data source at this time is the road traffic police, which has within its ranks policemen untrained in the highway code or in disincentives measures, which causes a lot of corruption. In addition, the police does not have adequate equipment to engage in systematical data collection and processing of accident data. “
Marius also quotes excessive agglomeration speed and poor knowledge of traffic rules by the population as risk factors. To raise awareness of the public, Handicap International will expose a pyramid of pairs of shoes symbolizing the road deaths in Kinshasa in 2015. A message of remembrance will also be released today in Kinshasa’s places of worship, to mobilize the greatest number.
Prevention, awareness and education in road safety are three essential components of Handicap International’s road safety projects. The sustainability of our actions is at stake because road safety is everyone’s business. In this context, work with victims is fundamental:
“The involvement of victims, of persons with disabilities and their associations is necessary to understand the actual needs of these people, to target and plan the actions that are likely to be most relevant to the identified road safety problems. It is important to try to understand what victims and their families might need. “
For Marius, mobility, accessibility and disability are intrinsically linked. The Brasilia Declaration, to be adopted during the conference, also points out that the most vulnerable (children, women, disabled and elderly) and the poorest are also the most vulnerable road users, who are most heavily exposed and impacted by road accidents.
“Disabled people have, in most cases, a limited mobility; they need adapted facilities to access public transportation (buses, planes, cars…) and to cross the road safely. This category of people is often forgotten by the authorities, and even more when road development is concerned. In African societies, the concept of inclusion is not yet well internalised by those who design public services. It will take strong advocacy work to get there.”
Halfway through the Decade of Action for Road Safety, progresses are being made in the DRC: an improvement in the availability of public transportation means, road development and ban on imports of old vehicles (over 10 years). Handicap International has supported the construction of a national road safety plan and contributed to capacity building of government staff in charge. The population has also been sensitized through campaigns using various tools (Highway Code for schoolboy and schoolgirls, cartoons, comics, posters…). Through these actions, road safety is now debated in the public arena. But many challenges remain to be addressed:
- Making public transport inclusive;
- Set up a system for collecting and managing data;
- Systematically secure school zones (speed bumps and rises);
- Regulate and penalize driving while intoxicated;
- Systematically involve local NGOs in all actions.
“The whole world should know that constant monitoring of the implementation of the Decade of Action is crucial. However, this intensive fight against road insecurity cannot stop in 2020, because, given WHO statistics, road accidents and deaths will stay a major issue much longer in Africa “.