The average person reads at two hundred words per minute. Around the world, a person dies on the roads every twenty five seconds. If we divide two hundred by sixty and then multiply our answer by twenty five, we reach a total of eighty three words in twenty five seconds. This paragraph has eighty three words in total. That stark reality means that in the time it has taken you to read this paragraph, another life has been lost somewhere on the roads.
Sunday the 15th of November was recognised as the World Day of Remembrance for Victims of Road Traffic Accidents, prompting the latest statistics to be revealed by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.
Despite the evolution of road safety technology, the roads still claim the lives of 1.25 million people every year. Road traffic incidents are the leading cause of death for the 15 to 29 year old age group and 49% of the victims are vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists.
The UN has therefore called on the governments of member states to go further, strengthening enforcement of the main contributing factors which result in fatalities, inappropriate speed, alcohol and drugs and the use of seatbelts and crash helmets.
In its report on the global road safety situation in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that the number of deaths from traffic incidents has stabilized since 2007, despite the increase in the number of motor vehicles between 2010 and 2013 growing by 16%, and the world population increasing by 4%.
Amongst all member countries, 17 of them have introduced legislative improvements in the last 3 years that deal with at least one of the five most common risk factors. This legislation across the countries has seen added protection to 409 million people, 5.7% of the world´s population.
Spain is named amongst countries which have seen success in the campaigns to reduce deaths on the roads, through changed legislation and enforcement, as well as education. The WHO report places Spain as the thirteenth country in the world and the fifth in the EU with the lowest mortality rate from traffic incidents, with 3.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.
However, associations representing victims of road traffic incidents still see the need for even harsher penalties when dealing with road traffic offences. Despite the high number of fatal and serious injury causing incidents, the majority still find at least one person accountable for the outcome. Education is still a major contributor to raising awareness of road safety, but enforcement is the only way of ensuring compliance when vehicle design leaves those inside feeling less vulnerable and often almost invincible, when the more vulnerable are offered less protection in the event of a collision caused often by drivers breaking the law and not being held to account.