By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
Go… slow down… and stop. The red, yellow, and green lights that color the roads signal drivers to follow these simple directions. Traffic lights are among the many guides on the road that manage to control traffic and help ensure safety on both drivers and pedestrians. Unfortunately, because of various circumstances such as drunk driving, speeding, driving distractions, and more, road accidents are not uncommon anymore. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million individuals die from road-related injuries year on year, and 20 to 50 million live from road injuries but suffer from it. WHO also reports that it is the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 29. Moreover, 90 percent of road injuries are from low-income countries. Sadly, these deaths could have been prevented if there were stricter regulations, better roads, and more responsible drivers.
In the Philippines, deaths caused by road injuries have been rising for more than a decade with mostly 20 to 24 year olds as victims and with more than 50 percent of road crashes occurring in Luzon than in Visayas or Mindanao, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). In fact, approximately 299 crashes happen every day, as reported by the Metro Manila Accident Recording and Analysis System (MMARAS). Consequently, WHO reports that road injury is the second leading cause of death among this age group worldwide, only after HIV/AIDS. PSA also indicates that children are also victims of road accidents, accounting for around 500 deaths every year since 2006. Moreover, motorcycle accidents account for most of these road injuries in the Philippines, and almost 99 percent of these riders did not wear helmets. The major cause of these accidents, according to MMARAS, is human error such as failure to follow traffic regulations (counter flowing, sudden stops, speeding), having medical problems (dizziness), and lack of focus because of tiredness, sleepiness, or alcohol. Vehicle defects and road defects are other causes of road injury.
Currently, the country has several regulations implemented for road safety, such as imposing speed limits (Land Transportation and Traffic Code, Road Speed Limiter Act of 2016), seat belt usage (Seat Belts Use Act of 1999), distracted driving (Distracted Driving Act of 2016), drunk and drug driving (Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013). The government has also soon-to-be regulations in line for drivers to attend trainings, such as The Professional Driver’s Education Act, Professional Truck Driver’s Education Act, and the Road Courtesy, Discipline, and Traffic Safety Education Act, and among others. Of course, motorcycle-riders also have to follow the government-enacted Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009 and Children’s Safety on Motorcycles Act of 2015. Moreover, the government is working continuously on ways to improve our roads, reduce the number of cars on the road (Color Coding Scheme), and change our current public transportation to be better, faster, and safer to the public.
All these regulations by the government are set to be implemented and strictly adhered to. Unfortunately, no matter how many laws and initiatives our government does to curb road accidents, they won’t be enough, unless the public cooperates. Change should start from us. Since the highest incidence of road injuries are because of human error, remember that injury can be prevented just by being a responsible driver. Always practice safety once you get inside your vehicle or hop on your motorcyle. Being safe on the road does not only serve to protect you, but others as well. If everyone is a responsible driver, then the road to good health is always a green light.