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Jan 31, 2012

Many road deaths; International Program assess roads

A UK based firm has conducted a survey of road conditions in the jewel. It found what is probably already known; that the road conditions are not optimal and lack safety features. The International Road Assessment Program also found that the number of deaths on the highways is high and says it will make recommendations on how to improve safety conditions. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Traffic accidents are all too common, especially on Belize’s highways and they often result in death or serious injuries. But the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) intends to make the roads safer. iRAP has been collecting data in Belize since September, 2011 and today it presented its findings on the road safety flaws and fixes.

Graciano Medina, Sr. Executive Engineer, Ministry of Works

Graciano Medina

“The project here in Belize kicked off five months ago with the launching of iRAP Belize so Belize is now a member of iRAP. It all began with data collection using specialized equipment; vehicles, software, technicians that came from abroad. The data collection was possible through Semic, which is a company in Mexico that provided the equipment.”

Julio Urzua, Regional Director, iRAP Latin America/Caribbean

“It covered the main highway, almost I would say a hundred percent of the paved highways. It accounts for three hundred and seventy-four miles ranging from the western Highway, the Northern Highway, the Hummingbird; all the main highways. So according to our data, we covered in this assessment the highways in which more than eighty percent of deaths occur. So if we really focus on these highways, the impact that we can make is going to be very important.”

Julio Urzua

iRAP Regional Director, Julio Urzua, says that once the data was analyzed, the roads were rated and an investment plan was developed.

Julio Urzua

“There are no five star roads and the rest of the roads are ranging from one star, which are in pretty bad conditions to four stars, which are very good roads. But I would say the most important thing is not the rating of the road because the rating of the roads with stars is a way to try to understand and compare the roads among themselves, this is not the most important part. The most important part is the investment plan.  In general, the number of deaths here in Belize is around—some figures say sixty-eight deaths per year other sources of data say seventy-one people per year. The number itself says nothing, the important thing is the rate so if you analyze the number of deaths per population or the number of deaths per vehicle, it’s very high. So if we compare the figures here with other countries, Belize has a lot to improve here.”

Ministry of Works Senior Executive Engineer, Graciano Medina and Urzua listed some of the problems that need attention.

Graciano Medina

“Our highways lack a lot of safety features such as line marking, cat eyes for night driving, probably safety barriers where you have deep embankments, probably the shoulders are not that adequate for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists. So the counter measures that are being presented today goes towards improving the highways.”

Julio Urzua

“There are a number of roads that have either no shoulders or the shoulders that they have are not paved or not in good condition. So there is a big opportunity there to improve, for improvement. Secondly, I would say the delineation of the roads; there are a large number of the kilometers that we assessed, they have no delineation or the delineation is not in good condition. So this is also a very good opportunity to improve the roads. And I would say the third one which is very important as well is what we call the road side friction. What does it mean? It’s when you have objects along the road that are going to cause a big accident with big consequences for the road user if you hit them. So for example, a tree, a pole or any other hard object that is along the road.”

And while there will always be accidents, Urzua says, the safety features can save lives.

Julio Urzua

“The road is an important actor when there is an accident. So in between a good road and a bad road you can see the difference between life and death. A good road maybe is going to forgive you if you have a good barrier, if you have good delineation, if the road has a wide shoulder paved, maybe you are going to run off the road and then you can come into the road again. But if the road is not good and any of us make a mistake, maybe the consequence is going to be different. So this is what we are saying; good roads save lives.”

iRAP will present two proposals to the government; one for work on what are called demonstration corridors and another for larger scale investments. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

The project is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank.

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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6 Responses for “Many road deaths; International Program assess roads”

  1. Charlie Price says:

    Start with public service announcements teaching and encouraging safe driving and THE RULES OF THE ROAD. The media can do this on their own.. TO HELP WITH THE PROBLEM!

  2. bz says:

    What a waste of money. This is a typical example of modern high priced studies to point out the obvious.

  3. impartial says:

    4 stars road in Belize?? where? where??

  4. CEO says:

    Why did we need to pay someone to tell us things we already know? Where is the Engineer for the department? Do they have Engineers in the department. There are standards published at no cost on the internet. I am sure there are hardly any stretch of road in Belize that meets the minimum standard.

    Just download those standards and start by implimenting the simpliest and least expensive standards and I guarantee you that accidents count will drop significantly.

  5. joejoe says:

    yeah, they didn’t know this…..had to take so many people to die before something is done about the road conditions. Maybe if they had built the road properly in the first place instead of using politics to back up a down economy it would have to be like that…but hey typical Belizean…makes me ashame

  6. Belizean with Pride says:

    Hey, You guys are right…Maybe we need to sit on there positions and use their money to show them we can do better at saving people lives and keeping our road conditions healthy…rather than over paying certain public sector employees..and others to doing half done jobs…take the Western Highway for example….what a waste of money and unsafe roads and shame to beautiful Belize.

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