June 7 - 13, 20

Pakistan, as a third world country, is facing the world's ninth biggest life-threatening problem i.e. traffic accidents.

However, with improvement in road infrastructure, although at snail pace and efforts aimed at observance of traffic rules and regulations, situation is gradually improving.

Road traffic crashes are a huge burden on the economy of countries, particularly those in low and middle-income groups. The economic cost of road crashes and injuries is estimated to be over Rs100 billion for Pakistan, experts told Page.

According to them, road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death, killing nearly 1.2 million people annually. Approximately 90 per cent of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. As motorisation increases, road traffic injuries are predicted to rise to become the eighth leading cause of death by 2030, the World Health Organisation (WHO) forecasts.

Experts believe that road traffic injuries push many families more deeply into poverty by the loss of their breadwinners and inflict a tremendous continuous burden on the disabled victims and their families; and on health care system.

Traffic police, highway authorities, health authorities and civic bodies are the important institutions, which should come forward and use the opportunity to raise public awareness of road traffic rules and regulations as well as traffic injuries, they added.

The government, on its part, has not yet been able to approve the country's first National Road Safety Plan, which is vital to promote the best practices and strategies to reduce deadly crashes.

The National Road Safety Plan has identified a set of effective measures, which are intended to have an immediate and long-term impact on the safety of the most valuable road users in the country, particularly the high-risk groups of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and users of public transport.

Traffic rules violation and lack of adequate road safety standards in Pakistan has claimed 45,000 lives in 90,000 road accidents in the last nine years causing an annual loss of Rs5 million, sources said.

Every year 1.7 million people die in road mishaps around the world. About 70 per cent deaths occur in the developing countries, out of which 65 per cent involve pedestrian, 35 per cent of them children. Besides, over 10 million people are maimed or gravely injured each year.

According to an estimate, at least 6 million more people will die and 60 million will be injured during the next 10 years in road accidents all over the world if proper preventive measures are not taken.

According to a report, about 10925 traffic accidents occurred in the country that claimed 7000 precious lives while 12925 people were injured. Out of total, 63 per cent accidents occurred on national highways.

It is also recorded that about 87 per cent accidents were just due to the negligence of drivers that indulged in over-speeding, overloading, wrong overtaking, and driving under the influence of alcohol. The figures collected through independent sources revealed that in Punjab alone 29,719 lives were lost in 52,116 road accidents. This is mainly because of two reasons: one, getting driving license in the country does not require driving skills or knowledge of traffic. It rather requires acquaintance with the officials and guts to bribe. The second reason is the pathetic fact that our traffic constables are absolutely powerless.

Adverse weather conditions and decomposed roads are also cause of severe mishaps on roads. Under such conditions drivers of all types of vehicles should take extraordinary care. In order to protect precious human lives, there is dire need that precautionary measures must be adopted.

They said that the public transport drivers need to be imparted few weeks' special training, focusing on the importance of traffic rules, before issuing them licenses. One-way traffic can minimise the ratio of fatal accidents.

Pakistan has a poor track record in terms of road safety and it lacks any institutional framework. Safety measures in Pakistan are half-heartedly restricted only to speed limits, seat belt use and motorcycle helmet law, however, enforcement of these restrictions is weak. At the same time, the government has no policy to promote walking or cycling or even use of public transport. There is neither any formal audit of new road construction projects nor the regular audit of existing road infrastructure.