Road safety culture

Meeting the challenge of saving lives is a common mission

22 mai 2024, 14:09


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Unbelievably, each local household possesses at least two motor vehicles! In fact, Mauritius boasts a fleet of 700,000 motor vehicles for 360,000 households. While it is true that the freedom and ease of movement offered by an individual vehicle are appreciable, it is no less true that they call for an irreproachable road safety culture.

It would be wrong to underestimate the individualization of transportation, because exposure to road accidents tends to increase with the increase in motor vehicles. For example, in 2014, the number of recorded collisions was 26,400 compared to 36,400 last year. This clearly indicates an increase in the volume of accidents proportional to the 45% growth of the vehicle fleet from 2014 to 2023. However, the data reveals a stabilization of the road fatality rate from 2014 to 2023 at an average of 11.2 per 100,000 inhabitants. This shows that the increase in road accidents is not necessarily related to the severity of accidents. Fortunately, enough!

However, this average is already too high compared to countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Sweden, which claim less than three deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in traffic accidents. Apart from the modern means deployed in these countries to counter road deaths, there is above all a culture of discipline and civic behavior. These social assets are maintained and transmitted by the country’s institutions, without forgetting the basic cell of society, the agent of transmission par excellence, which is the family!

It is imperative that our families do more to reduce road accidents, from which they are the first victims. From 2014 to 2023, more than 1,290 families lost at least one of their own on the road. Of the 1349 victims, it has sometimes happened that a family has counted several losses during the same tragic unforeseen event! The suffering, in any case, is unbearable and the emptiness unforgettable. The seriously wounded, who number in the thousands, should not be neglected, because the family is no less affected, even impoverished, when its breadwinners are immobilized and cannot work.

How can we stop this carnage?

First, by becoming aware of road risks such as drunk driving, distraction, speed and fatigue to name but a few. Secondly, by taking the measure of the social nature of the road where the risks are shared. The mistake of one road user can be the misfortune of the other if the latter is in the wrong place at the wrong time. After which, it is vital to talk about these in the family. Transmitting the means to protect oneself from accidents through the development of appropriate behaviors and lifesaving reflexes is a must.

We need to be vigilant and cultivate foresight together, in the family. A simple recommendation can prevent a collision. It costs nothing to make sure that the belts are properly fastened before starting. Above all, nurturing, within the family, universal values such as respect, patience and sharing is a shield against collisions because they are the pillars of living together and God knows how much this way of life is undermined on our roads.

If, every eight minutes, a driver is fined for excessive speed, can we talk about respect for life on this shared social space we call the road? Meeting the challenge of saving lives is a common mission. It starts in our individual families, without forgetting that they are influenced by the measures and policies of the authorities. The latter share, with our families, the responsibility of reducing road fatalities in a context of increased access to motor vehicles.

It is only at this price that the great Mauritian community will be able to combine freedom of movement and responsibility to prevent collisions.