By Dr. John Philip, Chair of the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors, and member of the Rotary Club of Newbury, England
It is estimated that 1.2 million people die each year due to road traffic accidents (RTAs). Deaths from RTAs in developing nations will soon exceed the combined deaths of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Beyond the deaths are the badly injured and permanently disabled, which number at least as many as the deaths. Most of the victims are heads of households and this throws the entire family into poverty, often permanently. RTA survivors, their families, friends, and other caregivers often suffer adverse social, physical, and psychological effects. If the current trends continue, the number of people killed and injured on the world’s roads will rise by more than 60% by 2020.
It is time for us to act.
The Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors is calling on clubs to join the 5th United Nation’s Road Safety Week initiatives between 6-12 May. This year’s campaign is targeted at civil society organizations and policy-makers. We urge Rotary members to plan an event with family, friends and colleagues.
Some of the tried and tested measures to reduce RTAs are:
- Avoiding over-speeding and following speed limits
- Avoiding drunken driving
- Using helmets by two-wheeler drivers
- Using seat belts and child restraints in cars
- Improving visibility, appropriate headlights and road lightings
Death and the impact of injuries can be prevented with first aid treatment, if treated immediately. The first hour after the trauma is called the “golden hour.” If proper first aid is given, road accident victims have a greater chance of survival and see significantly reduction in the severity of their injuries.
There are many ways you can help to reduce RTAs in your community:
- Meet with traffic authorities and discuss the current situation in your community
- Identify priorities with the help of key stake-holders
- Produce informational leaflets to raise awareness and offer advice on how to reduce RTAs
- Erect a road sign
- Work with target groups – schools, colleges, faith communities, employers
- Supply high visibility jackets to youngsters who find themselves having to use roads when lighting is poor
- Advocacy – write to authorities if a particular need is identified – eg: street lights, road signs, helmets, seat belts, accident spots
- Offer first aid training
If we act today, we may save a life or prevent a fatal injury tomorrow.
The Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors offers Rotarians, their family members, and program participants and alumni a unique opportunity to bring their vocation into service, change lives and make friends. The group shares a vision for supporting and promoting global health improvements, an enthusiasm for making advancements through volunteering, and a strong commitment to support local and international healthcare initiatives. Join the group or contact John for more information.