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Dec 19, 2018

65 Deaths by Road Traffic Accidents in Belize

Earlier this month, the Global Status Report on Road Safety for 2018 was released.  The report shows that the burden is disproportionately borne by pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, particularly those living in developing countries.  It suggests that the price paid for mobility is too high, especially because proven measures exist. These include strategies to address speed as well as drinking and driving, among other behaviors. Safer infrastructure like dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists, improved vehicle standards and enhanced post-crash care are also taken into consideration. The report recommends that drastic action is needed to save lives. Andrea Polanco tells us more about this report.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 was launched by the World Health Organization earlier this month. The report paints a grim picture on road safety showing that road traffic deaths continue to rise, with one point three million deaths caused by road crashes every-year. The report highlights that road traffic injuries are now the leading killer of children and young people of age five to twenty-nine.


Etienne Krug

Dr. Etienne Krug, Director, Dept for Mgmt of NCDs, Disability. Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO

“For years, we have accepted one point three million deaths on the roads; fifty million injured. And not only that, but this had become the number one killer of young people. And so, I don’t get it. I don’t understand why we are still letting this happen when in fact we know what needs to be done.”


Every single month of this year, people died in road crashes in Belize. Unofficial records show that sixty five persons have lost their lives so far in traffic accidents and over thirty-persons were injured. The Road Status report shows that people who die from these crashes are mostly pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists in developing countries. And while over a million people die every year – countries still struggle to address this global public health hazard, which is preventable.  WHO recognizes that strong legislation and enforcement, as well as public awareness and safety measures, and safer vehicles and roads to travel on can greatly reduce the risks associated with road crashes.


Dr. Etienne Krug

“I think there is still a lot of ignorance on the magnitude of the problem, in part because they happen one by one. If they were all happening on one day in the year, of course, it would be totally different. It would be headline news everywhere but because they happen here and there one by one, very often among poor people, they are not getting the attention they deserve. And actually there is ignorance to the fact that actually we can do something about it. There is still a lot of belief that it is just people with bad luck who are at the wrong place at the wrong time and it is a price for mobility and a price for development and that people are going to die in crashes. But, when in fact, no, if we put in place the right measures we can save all these lives.”


And the implementation of a safety project on one of our highways has shown the kind of difference these measures can make. In 2017, the Belize Road Safety Project reported a sharp decrease in the number of crashes along the George Price Highway where the project was carried out.


Faith Cunningham

Faith Cunningham, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Belize Road Safety Project

“At the beginning of the project, we were at roughly fifty percent of the accidents occurring on the demonstration corridor, and over the past four years we have seen a drastic reduction where it had reduced to as you heard earlier, ten percent; so based on this year’s figures at halfway during the year, we are at two percent; if that trend continues, then it means that we would be at somewhere around four to five percent which is a great reduction in fatalities. Right now the main cause is speeding; we can see from the newscasts and regular usage of the road we see a lot of speeding on the road. Speeding and not utilizing the seatbelts; people on the motorcycles not utilizing their helmets; pedestrians not wearing bright clothes in the nighttime; cyclists, even, not wearing the bright clothes and the helmets. These things contribute to a loss of life.”


The magnitude of traffic related deaths is spread across the world – and global road safety ambassadors like Zoleka Mandela of South Africa are calling for more to be done to reduce these preventable deaths.


Zoleka Mandela

Zoleka Mandela, Safety Ambassador, Child Health Initiative

“We refer to it as a man-made epidemic that is because there are solutions. For instance, new vehicles need to meet minimum UN safety standards. We need to make sure that all our cities are safe, especially on high risk roads that there is the three star safety. We need to make sure that our children have safe journeys. These are things we can do. We can have no speed zones around the schools. Governments know this and again there is just not enough action and so what they need to do is to figure out how they revive their efforts in protecting our children.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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