PAHO/WHO Guyana's PWR’s Remarks at the Launch of the Global Decade of Road Safety 2011-2020

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Good morning. I think that we need do no more than read, watch, and listen to the media in Guyana to be aware that issues related to road safety are a priority in the country. In 2008, land transport accidents were the 11th leading cause of death overall; in 2006 and 2007, they ranked as the 8th leading cause of death. In 2008, accidents and injuries were reported as the most prevalent chronic, non-communicable diseases in Regions, 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10, affecting males more than females. In 2010, there were 115 road fatalities.[1]

[1] Guyana Police Force Traffic Department


However, Guyana is not unique in facing these particular challenges, and for that reason the United Nations General Assembly has endorsed this global initiative – the Global Decade of Action for Road Safety – to call attention to the growing impact of traffic injuries and deaths, and the need to strengthen prevention and control measures.  In fact, some persons, and I notice that Mothers in Black is among them, refer to “road crashes” rather than “road accidents”, since these occurrences are not seen as accidents, but as events that can be anticipated and prevented. The main risk factors for road injuries are non-use of helmets, seat belts, and child restraints; drinking and driving; and speeding.

The Global Decade of Action hopes to save 5 million lives, prevent 50 million serious injuries, and save US$5 trillion over the next 10 years. In the Western Hemisphere, road traffic injuries are the number-one cause of death for children 5 to 14 and the second-leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 44. Traffic crashes kill more than 140,000 people each year in the Americas, while more than 5 million suffer non-fatal injuries, many resulting in permanent disabilities. In many countries—particularly lower-income countries—the majority of traffic deaths and injuries occur among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 includes a Global Plan that outlines steps to improve the safety of roads and vehicles, enhance emergency services, and strengthen road-safety management in general, including the behaviour of road users.  It calls for more and stronger laws, and better enforcement of the laws that exist. The Global Plan includes measures such as the construction of bicycle and foot paths and separate motorcycle lanes, as well as improved access to safe public transportation.

Guyana has been taking action to improve road safety, including enacting laws against drinking and driving (the legal limit is 0.35 mg/ml and both the blood and breath alcohol concentration levels are used to press charges, which result in fines), riding motorcycles without helmets, seatbelt non-use, and speeding (radar guns are used). There is ongoing advocacy for automated speed enforcement (fixed radars and speed cameras at traffic lights) and better provisions on road networks for cyclists and pedestrians.

Although when we think of road safety we do not automatically think of health, it is clear that this is a public health issue, as well as one related to safety, security, and transportation, since the health sector has to deal with the effects of road crashes. For this reason, the establishment of the multisectoral National Road Safety Council was a big step forward, and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) will be pleased to continue to support the multisectoral approach to dealing with the challenges.

PAHO/WHO has supported the school patrols program, parent and teacher training, and driver education. We have provided support to the National Road Safety Council to build its capacity and draft its strategy paper, which will be made operational through a National Road Safety Plan. We have supported a road safety campaign and are supporting an emergency room study to document the connection between alcohol misuse and road crashes in Guyana

We commit to continuing our technical cooperation with counterparts and partners from various sectors to contribute to strengthening road safety in Guyana and to monitoring the country’s contribution to the achievement of the goals of the Global Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. 

Thank you.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 June 2011 12:15