The Do’s and Don’ts of Road Safety

The Do’s and Don’ts of Road Safety
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Dr. Arshed Iqbal Dar

Road traffic injuries and fatalities have emerged as a major public health concern and the worsening situation is that road traffic injuries are among top 10 leading causes of death. Considering the gravity of the situation, there is consensus that concerted measures are necessary for reducing the high level of accident deaths and injuries through improved safety measures and traffic management.
Over speeding is one of the causes of road traffic injuries. Speed has 5 letters so has death and slow has 4 letters so has life, we need to be in the habit of slowing down and checking the tracks each time we cross these. Excess and inappropriate speed is responsible for a high proportion of the mortality and morbidity that results from road crashes.
The higher the speed of a vehicle, the shorter the time a driver has to stop and avoid a crash. A car travelling at 50 km/hr will typically require 13 metres within which to stop. You must know, from the moment alcohol enters in your blood stream; you begin to lose your ability to think clearly. Alcohol is not digested, as food is, rather it is absorbed into the bloodstream through walls of the stomach and small intestines. It is then carried to all parts of the body and has the greatest effect on the brain. Alcohol affects the reflex action of the eyes that causes the pupils to become smaller in bright light and larger as light diminishes. Similar to night blindness, drinker’s pupils don’t return to normal size quickly enough once headlights have passed. Alcohol impairs side, color, and night vision and may lead to double vision. Alcohol affects your inhibitions, the elements of your personality that stop you from behaving without regard to possible consequences. In drivers, the loss of inhibition can be very dangerous and can cause them to take chances they would normally avoid.
One more identified reason for road traffic injuries is distraction, which means anything that causes the drivers to take their attention away from driving, take their eyes off the road or take their hands off the wheel viz. multitasking (driving and using a cell phone at the same time) causing brain to shift focus. Most people run red-lights because they are in a hurry, when in fact they save only seconds and lost their lives. A black cat can stop you, a red signal can’t! If a cat crosses road it does not mean bad luck, it means that the cat is going somewhere. Traffic signs have shapes and symbols that denote specific meaning. The shapes and symbols allow you to know if you are faced with a regulation, a warning, information or guidance and sometimes the specific meaning of the sign. Wait for the red; don’t end up dead.
Efforts to improve road safety have been underway for many years now and have had a major impact on the road safety record. In many developing countries, children are an unprotected, vulnerable group and one of the most serious threats to their health and well-being are road traffic accidents. On average, 20% of pedestrian fatalities in developing countries involve pedestrians less than 16 years of age. It is therefore evident there is an immediate need to raise the awareness of the child pedestrian accident problem in developing countries, provide teachers with effective materials and approaches for teaching road safety, and improve children’s and teacher’s road safety knowledge and attitudes.
There is also a need for teacher training materials, and good practice guidelines for senior administrators and curriculum development authorities, to make road safety education sustainable. Road safety laws need to be updated and adapted to address emerging risks such as mobile phone use while driving, drunken driving, motorcycle helmets, seat belts, child restraints can make law enforcement more effective, reduces road traffic fatalities, injuries and related socioeconomic costs.
Proper road maintenance contributes to reliable transport at reduced cost, as there is a direct link between road condition and vehicle operating costs. An improperly maintained road can also represent an increased safety hazard to the user, leading to more accidents, with their associated human and property costs. Soil investigation is an integral part of the location, design, and construction of roads. Most roads are constructed on soils or soft rocks and it is obvious that through knowledge of the properties of the rocks and the soils in and near the road line is the basis for appropriate road design. One of the most important aspects of the design of a road is the provision made for protecting the road from surface water and ground water. Water on the pavement slows traffic and contributes to accidents from hydroplaning and loss of visibility from splash and spray. If water is allowed to enter the structure of the road, the strength and deformation resistance of the pavement and sub grade will be weakened, it will be much more susceptible to damage by the traffic.
Having a driver license is a privilege, not a right. All drivers must have a driver’s license to operate a vehicle of any kind on a public highway. Other drivers and pedestrians will expect you to know and follow the laws and rules of the road, be polite, and not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or otherwise impaired while you are driving. If you are a minor, your parents or guardian are responsible for the financial consequences of your driving. Without seat-belts, people are often thrown against windshields and dashboards. Simply, wearing a seat belt can prevent the seriousness of the accident. If you have a driver’s license, they will expect you to drive safely. Passengers in your car have put their safety in your hands, and expect that because you have a driver’s license, you will drive safely, observe speed limits, not drive while distracted, and yield to emergency vehicles. Cosmetic treatment is nothing but an ad hoc approach, dire need is to address this grave issue at its grassroots, so to make road safety everyone’s cup of tea.

The author is an Assistant Professor of Zoology at Government Degree College, Sumbal. He can be reached