Road accidents are the ninth largest leading cause of death and unless a safe system approach is adopted, it is estimated to take the fifth place as the leading cause of deaths in the world, according to Tami Toroyan of the World Health Organisation, Geneva.
At a media workshop on ‘road safety and public health’, organised jointly by the WHO and the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) here on Tuesday, she called for a change in the outlook of journalists in sensitising motorists and road users at large on adoption of safe driving practices, adherence to the traffic rules and respecting the rights of other road users like pedestrians.
Dr. Tami said that around 1.24 million road users were losing their lives in accidents worldwide every year and a vast majority of them were in the productive age group. Calling for a safe system approach, she said there were three components to road safety: road users like motorists and pedestrians, vehicles and infrastructure. A shared responsibility between all the stakeholders was necessary to bring down accidents.
Shailaja Tetali, an Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health, Hyderabad, outlined the findings of a research study undertaken in Hyderabad. She said that drink driving had shown a decline in Hyderabad after strict enforcement. Gayle Di Pietro of Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) called upon journalists to use the word ‘crash’ to denote an ‘accident’ as the former was ‘preventable’ and would drive motorists to think on those lines in similar situations.
Police Commissioner B. Shivadhar Reddy briefed about the initiatives taken up by the police during the last few years to bring down accidents in Visakhapatnam. The posting of traffic guides, enforcement of helmet rule, seat belt rule, drive against ‘drink driving’ and medical check up for drivers of heavy vehicles were some of the initiatives that helped in bringing down the accident rate.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic), Cyberabad, Avinash Mohanty, called for a change in the mindset of road users to bring down accidents. Citing an example like triple riding on motorcycle, not wearing seat belts and jumping the red light had more to do with the behaviour of motorists.
Elena Altieri of WHO, Geneva, Dipak Dash and Subhendu Ray, senior journalists, spoke on various aspects of reporting on road safety and the proactive role that could be played by the media.