Panel discussion on “One-year progress update on the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020”
Report by Devindree Pillay
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
On 11 May 2011, the first ever Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was launched by the United Nations. This was supported with great enthusiasm and optimism by countries across the world. 100 governments co-sponsored the UN resolution, committing to work to achieve this ambitious objective through an ‘Action Plan’ with targets for raising child restraints, helmet and seat belt use, promoting safer road infrastructure and protecting vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. It must be noted that speeding and driving whilst under the influence of alcohol were rated as two of the top five causes of road accidents. The initiative seeks to prevent road traffic deaths and injuries (which experts project will take the lives of 1.9 million people annually by 2020). A yearly progress review of the project is currently underway at the United Nations. A Global Plan Of Action was set out in May last year, and each country was encouraged to adopt this as well as refine their national plans. Feedback was received from many countries and it seems like progress is being made and statistics are revealing that fatality and injury rates are decreasing in countries who are taking a pro-active approach in this project. Being an occupational therapist by profession, my mind was flooded with memories of my many former patients, who sustained brain and spinal cord injuries, leaving them with permanent physical and cognitive disabilities. So this is of particular importance to me, if there is any way we can all work together internationally, nationally and locally, to prevent such tragedies from occurring, it would be a great service to humanity. Physical infrastructures can be put in place, but psycho-social contributors, in terms of dangerous habits and behaviors require a different approach. People who are affected with such addictions would greatly benefit from self awareness and personal development programmes which would assist in overcoming risky behaviors, and this in turn would benefit the communities they drive in.