During the last three decades, since 1977, more than 40,000 people died and nearly 370,000 injured out of which 68,440 were serious. Am I talking about the damage caused by the 30-year-old conflict? No, I am not. These are statistics on road accidents, released at the recently held conference hosted by the National Road Safety Council.
The data also revealed that around 150 accidents are reported daily in Sri Lanka, causing death to five to six people. This is not a problem faced only by the Sri Lankans; almost 1.3 million people around the world die each year from road accidents.
Taking this rise of accidents into consideration, many countries of the world including ours, have declared a Global decade of Action for Road Safety in 2011-2020.
The road accidents are under the spotlight, making it the perfect time to discuss the causes. Negligence plays a key role in causing accidents although not the eventual.
Ill disciplined pedestrians and drivers also deserve the blame. The Gazette Announcement 486/8 issued by the Sri Lanka Government on December 29, 1987, established a set of best practices the pedestrians and drivers need to follow. Unfortunately, only a few know these practices and even those who know rarely puts those into practice. Therefore, we decided to enlighten you gradually on the rules suggested by the gazette announcement. After all, this is simply common sense that we all should have.
Pedestrians - The discussion about safety of the pedestrians, always give priority to children. The parents need to be watchful when their children use the road. Never allow them to play on the road.
As a rule of thumb, keep children away from the moving traffic while walking. From their tender age, teach the safety road rules and develop the habit of following those.
Pedestrians should always use footpaths or pavements, if provided. Using the footpath also needs you to follow few rules; avoiding covering the full width of the pavement while walking tops this list. Haven't you ever faced these types of pedestrians in your life? How did you feel? I am sure you did not feel great!
Further, pedestrians should note that the roads are for the primary use of the motor traffic. Therefore, they should offer priority to motor traffic.
They also should take caution while walking on the dimly lit roads, especially at night. If there is no footpath, it is advisable to wear light colours and carry something white, which will help the drivers to spot you easily at night.
When a pedestrian needs to cross the road, look for a pedestrian crossing, overhead bridge or an underground crossing.
A crossing within 50 metres wants the pedestrian to cross from there. While crossing, stop and check for motor traffic until you get a safe moment.
As we learnt as children, "Eyes right! Eyes left! Eyes right once again.
Then, if the road is, clear. Quick march! Don't rush! You may cross the road for there's nothing now to fear." You are safe on the road, if you follow this rhyme. Crossing - in an instance when motor traffic and pedestrians coincide, needs the attention of the drivers and the pedestrians.
Following the rules, ease the life of both the parties. Crossing behind or ahead of parked vehicles is fatal, especially after getting down from the bus, as this causes many accidents. Many main roads have security fences along the road. Always choose to use a dedicated gap of the fence, when a pedestrian enters the road, instead of jumping over. After all, who wants to end with a broken bone instead of walking few steps? Fences guard the pedestrians. Therefore, never bypass and walk on the road.
An intersection is an idyllic example for intricate traffic plans. Motor vehicles come in every direction. Therefore, pedestrians need to be cautious at these places. Since, most junctions provide narrow footpaths or the footpath might be absent. When you start to cross the road at pedestrian crossing, allow the driver sometimes to see you, and lower the speed before stopping.
Pedestrians on the crossing, merely obliges the driver to stop. The pedestrians need to be extra cautious if the road is dark or wet. At points where traffic signals control the motor traffic and the pedestrians, do not dare to cross when the red man is on.
If a control button is available, press and wait for the green man. The duration between the red man and the green man is hardly two minutes. So why be restive and prefer colliding on a vehicle rather than waiting for two minutes? It is your preference. In the end, you are periling your life. Never try to cross when the green man blinks, which signals the pedestrian, to 'hurry.'
We play the role of the pedestrian in our daily routines. Follow this set of best practices and make others lives easier. Next week, we hope to bring you another episode of rules on courtesy driving dedicated for bicycles and motor vehicles. Let us do our duty to lessen accidents.