Lobaton: Road accidents and infra designs

Lobaton: Road accidents and infra designs

IN 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that about 1.3 million die on the world’s roads while 20 to 50 million are injured each year. Road accidents are a common cause of death from ages 5 to 29 years old or among children and young adults.

The WHO listed some facts about road safety. It could reduce the number of deaths should safety measures be followed. Studies show that adherence to laws on road safety could reduce the number of accidents and death.

The report also said that death in road traffic accidents is more than three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries.

I have in mind reasons related to our situation in the Philippines with reference to the report of WHO where we have a higher rate of accidents than advanced countries. That is on the assumption that we, as a developing country, are also considered low-income.

I noticed the infrastructure design of our roads ascribed to a developing country, speaks about pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists passing through all in the same way. Imagine if hundreds of vehicles will join the pedestrians on a narrow road in a day, what would you expect to happen? That means accidents are inevitable results of an inherent design unless changed.

The reality remains that government provides only narrow spaces for road users.Many of the properties beside the roads are owned by private persons that for a period could not be taken by the government for public use. If they can expropriate them, it would take a long process or it will take time before the government can translate them into roads that can be used for free passage. Another possibility is that it will fall into forgetfulness and “let it be” situations.

I have observed in other countries that they invest in roads and open spaces. They designed separate ways for motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, and motorbikes. Simply the exact opposite of what we have when we see vehicles and people moving in the same narrow street.

One could wonder how we could evade such branding from studies when reality says it so. Here we have not yet touched on what WHO suggested regarding other facts that could promote road safety. We just have a glimpse of what our prone-to-accident roads are capable of creating until inventions are introduced.

It is another gap in how we think of our supposed dynamics because some would look at the increasing number of vehicles and people as part of development. Yet, we fail to look at the consequences of busy roads where ordinary pedestrians don’t have a choice than risk passing into lanes where some drivers do not care whether they will hit you or not.

It requires some conscious minds, especially for those agencies in charge of designing our roads and management of our traffic system. The research departments of these agencies should always look at how comfort and social order should be transferred into the lives of our people.

One problem we face in this country is the hardship of thinking that there are still people who want to create better lives. I hope to imagine that many are not yet drowned in a state of demoralization like the living condition of ordinary Filipinos.

It could help if we summon how we think the role of government in this country should be. Is it just for the sake of “power-trip” or the use of power to enrich a self or selves? If the questions of why government exists, for whom, and for what was not answered, then situations of making lives worse will remain.

Road accidents and infrastructure designs are just indications of a shortened understanding of why government exists as a social institution.


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