Vientiane, 6 April 2017
As Lao New Year approaches, the time of festivities and merrymaking should not be marred with calamity. Refrain from driving when drinking alcohol, and don’t speed!
Every year, 337,000 people are killed in the Western Pacific Region as a result of road traffic crashes. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among people aged 15–44 years, and 3 out of 4 road traffic death victims are males. Million more people like Mr. Khamsouk suffer non-fatal injuries, incurring a disability as a result of their injury.
Mr. Khamsouk at the National Medical Rehabilitation Centre where he attends physiotherapy sessions. Photo: WHO Lao PDR
In Lao PDR, 5,616 road accidents were reported in 2016, killing 1,086 people and injuring 8,912. Of these people, 1,371 were left in a critical condition, 3,483 were seriously injured and 4,058 were injured. The Traffic Police Department confirmed that the number of road accidents has been increasing as motorists violate the traffic rules. About 90 per cent of accidents involved drunk driving and speeding, and many accidents occur during festive occasions when people get together to drink.
Road traffic injuries are preventable
Road traffic injuries are not “accidents”. “Accidents” are defined as unexpected outcomes that occur by chance. Road traffic injuries are results of well-established risk factors like speeding and driving when drinking. Wearing motorcycle helmets and seatbelts can reduce the risk of fatality by 40 per cent and risk of severe injury by over 70 per cent.
Avoiding to use mobile phones while driving also contributes to making Lao PDR’s roads safer, since texting, calling or taking your hands off the wheel distracts you from the road and other traffic participants.
Drinking and driving increases both the risk of a crash and the likelihood that death or serious injury will be the result.
Pedestrians and motorists have a higher chance of surviving a car crash at 30 km/h or below. This speed is recommended for areas with vulnerable road users, near schools and residential areas.
The 4th UN Road Safety Week, held between 8 and 14 May, will focus on speed and what can be done to address this key risk factor. Many countries have successfully reduced road traffic deaths by enforcing speed limits and raising awareness of the dangers of speeding.
WHO Representative to Lao PDR Dr. Juliet Fleischl shares the road safety message “Save lives #SlowDown”. Photo: WHO Lao PDR
Your responsibility as a road user
We have seen the number of road traffic accidents and injuries increasing in the country. As a road user, your responsibility to fellow road users – and yourself – is to reduce speed and refrain from drinking when you drive.
See details of our #ArriveSafe4PiiMai campaign here.