Tuesday, 7 May 2013 , Brian Bilal Mwebaze
This week is all about the UN Global Road Safety Week and Brian writes about his recent experiences exploring why this week is so important. As a global community fighting for road safety, we must unite in this week and promote pedestrian safety everywhere! Come along and read Brian’s column here.
Ladies and gentlemen or should I say, ‘Gentlemen and Ladies’, MAY: -the shortest month of the year is here! Yes, that’s affirmative. I know, I know, because some of your eye brows are already raised thinking ‘Hmmm, what, under the sky is this guy talking about? May has 31 long days!’ Yes, that’s correct too, but you will find that out of 100 world’s spoken languages, 99% of them will be naming MAY as the shortest month, basing on the number of letters! (I got you LOL). Along with herself, Madam MAY comes with what everybody is talking about in the world of road safety! Christmas! Oh, no, not actually that, but the #GLOBALROADSAFETYWEEK!
The Second UN Global Road Safety Week to be held 6-12 May 2013 is dedicated to pedestrian safety.
Requested by the UN General Assembly, the Week intends to draw attention to the urgent need to better protect pedestrians worldwide, generate action on the measures needed to do so, and contribute to achieving the goal of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 to save 5 million lives bearing in mind that more than 5000 pedestrians are killed on the world’s roads each week. (Iam not proud to say this grrrrr).
So, that day, 20th April 2013 still reverbates in my cerebrum (ok this is the part of the brain responsible for memory recall, storing information) because then, I’d made it 2 years since I got my 2nd driving licence. That day meant that, it had reached its ‘Expiry date’ and needed a facelift. In the evening I went to Prestige driving school in my local town to fix a time when I’d start on the processes of getting my new driving permit. With me, on the waiting list were 8 young drivers whose argument about ‘Who is a better driver, males or females?’ I got involved in the mix.
We’ve been exposed to statistics about the incidences of road traffic accidents (actually that’s not correct, hence forth, we shall call them road traffic crashes or RTis), males are 2 times more likely to be involved in a road traffic crash, break road traffic rules like doing 80km/hr in a 20 km/hr zone than the female drivers. These young female drivers were very well informed about this and so were the young male drivers, as I later found out.
But, but, but, you see, social issues came in to define what the current trendy man and woman are: upon which the mirror factor showed up! Holy smokessss! The Francophone say, with twisted lips ‘Zut Alors!!!!’ Apparently, the ‘trendy young woman spends too much time in the mirror than average, possibly due to dressing, colour matches etc’ and such young women are at risk of using driving mirrors in a car for the same while on the road.
This hypothesis then, suggests that, young women could be significantly contributing to road traffic crash incidences than young drivers. I think, we need a documented and well-studied research to say this in public, but I am sure you already have your own views. This conversation turned into a really heated debate with young women drivers strongly stating that ‘Drug abuse, Drinking, Driving and Walking’ is commonly practiced among young male drivers whose hunger for ‘real masculinity’ may lead them to such actions. Maybe the debate will never reach a conclusive ending but the statistics do suggest that males are more likely to be involved in road crashes worldwide, in Uganda, it is as much as 79% male and 21% Female (according the Global Road Safety Status Report, World Health Organization, 2013).
Whatever the nut, at the global level, Road Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among people, aged 15-44 years old, its still the biggest killer of young people aged 15-24 with 90% of road traffic deaths and injuries occurring in developing countries (including Uganda, my country), which have only 48% of the world’s registered vehicles.
Now, you have a very good reason to be worried, because you and I fall in the same age range: no need to show you my birth certificates, come on! A significant economic, political, social and psychological road safety burden in developing countries is caused by time-sensitive avoidable crashes. The Global Road Safety Week gives us a chance to make our contributions in solidarity with other stakeholders to ensure zero road traffic crash related deaths at least during this week in our communities.
As for my local organisation, the Uganda Red Cross Mbarara, we are aware that the provision of timely and professional first aid during life-threatening emergencies is not a priority for many road safety actors in Africa, but it makes a difference between life and death/disability. We have our action plans for the week ready to join the international community, all relevant stakeholders within the country (both the public and private) to ensure a fatality free Week while making a significant and long-lasting contribution towards making walking safe for all. Long Short Walk, zebra cross painting, road safety and first aid training and traditional road safety media competitions are some of the events we’ve planned already.
But the question is What will YOU do in the Global Road Safety Week? Go fishing?
Not all week certainly! Let’s unite, call for safer roads for pedestrians everywhere and save some lives! Forget the #DrivingMirrorAmongYoungFemaleAndMaleDriversJoke! Hahaha!