Road Safety by Dr. Rajiv Narula
The peak travel season is on us, due to the slow down in the economy, there has probably been some reduction in spending towards leisure activities, like vacations. However in our Travel Clinic in NYC we are seeing a lot of travels who are going to locations like India, Peru, Bolivia, Thailand, Cambodia , China, etc. People travel for several reasons: for adventure, exploration, relaxation, see how other people live and for other countless reasons. During the pre travel consultation we do a risk assessment on possible health issue that will face the traveler at the destination. Most of the infectious issues are looked after with proper advice, vaccinations, medications, and sometimes with treatment if exposure occurs. One aspect of the talk has to do with road safety . Things that we take for granted here are - like road conditions/ traffic laws / vehicle safety do NOT exist is many parts of the world.
According to the World Health Organization study, World Health Report 1999 1,171,000 people are killed and approximately 10 million are injured annually in road traffic accidents. These numbers do not include data from countries where road accidents are unreported. Numbers like this should cause alarm but unfortunately, as most road accidents occur one at a time society does not register much interest unless a famous person is involved. Dr. Alan Ross, technical Director of the Global Road Safety partnership, put these in a different perspective – “ 2925 JUMBO JETS EACH CARRYING 400 PERSONS CRASHED THIS YEAR”. This would have formed the creation of commissions to look into and to try an reduce the numbers.
In the year 2020 , road accidents will become the third leading cause of death, this as pera a study by the Harvard School of Public Health. In 1997 a study done by Dicle Univ School of Medicine, Diyarbakir, Turkey, found that out of the 329 deaths due to trauma 131 or 40% were caused by motor vehicle accidents.
www.asirt.org, is the web site of the Association for Safe International Road Travel, they have all the information on road accidents by countries, according to them the top countries for fatalities per 100 million vehicle kilometers are Egypt (44), Krygstan(24), Sri Lanka (23), Rep of Korea(21),Turkey(20).
The developing world owns 32% of the world’s vehicles, but account for 75% of the annual vehicle accidents. 85 % of road fatalities occur in developing countries. There are several reasons for this:
As you can imagine the economic toll of road accidents is enormous, the World Bank estimates it to be in the vicinity of $500 billion dollars per year, in some countries this accounts for 1-3 % of the GNP . For developing countries road crashes cost $60 billion , this is almost twice the amount that is received for assistance from world bodies.
So as a traveler who is going for a 2 week vacation or on a business trip what should you do :
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