News / Asia

Traffic Growth in Emerging Economies Drives Deadly Accidents

Vehicles move slowly during morning rush hour in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad (FILE).
Vehicles move slowly during morning rush hour in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad (FILE).

Major traffic accidents claimed the lives of at least 65 people in India, China and Egypt this past week alone. Rising incomes in the developing world are giving more people the chance to own their first vehicle, but lax safety standards, poorly designed highways and hordes of novice drivers are proving to be a deadly combination.

Tragedy struck China's highways on Monday, when 14 schoolchildren were killed in one accident in Hunan province, and seven people died in a 100-car pileup in neighboring Guizhou.

The dangers faced on China’s increasingly busy roadways have become commonplace in the developing world. Etienne Krug, the director for violence and injury prevention at the World Health Organization in Geneva, says this is an instance where the positive aspects of development can have serious drawbacks.

“New roads are being built, more cars are taking the road, more drivers are taking the road every day by the thousands," he says. "Unfortunately these good developments are not being matched with the necessary safety measures, and road safety has not been given the priority it deserves to match these very quick changes in development.”

India's Traffic Woes

This is no truer than on India’s chaotic roadways, where most of the world's traffic fatalities occur. The latest major accident happened this past Saturday, when mourners traveling from a funeral wound up needing a funeral of their own after a bus crashed into their van. Thirty-six people died in the accident in Uttar Pradesh state.

JP Research, a U.S.-based firm, has been compiling data on accidents like this in India’s Tamil Nadu state. Ravishankar Rajaraman, the group’s project manager in India, says many new roads were modeled after Western highways, which can be problematic because Indian commuting habits are vastly different.

“In India, nearly 70 percent of the vehicles are actually two-wheelers," Rajaraman says. "Cars, passenger cars form only about 15 to 20 percent.”

The big, wide-lane highways that accommodate cars and trucks traveling at high speed in the West become a safety hazard when clogged with two-wheeled vehicles.  

“What happens is when vehicles keep moving and changing lanes in order to avoid another vehicle in front, which has stopped to basically take a turn or to take a u-turn, that's when these changing of directions creates problems for two-wheelers which are around,” says Rajaraman.

Lax Safety Standards

New highways often lack proper road signs and lighting, as was the case in Egypt this past Sunday, when a bus driving on a dimly lit road crashed into a parked truck. Eight American tourists were killed in the pre-dawn accident as they drove from Aswan towards the Abu Simbel temple.

Krug, of the WHO, says even if the proper rules are in place, and regulations are followed, drivers and passengers in emerging economies face the added challenge of riding in vehicles with inferior safety mechanisms.

“We see vehicles that look the same in some of these emerging countries but are not the same as the ones that we use because they have been stripped of some of the basic safety measures,” Krug says.

Vehicles targeted for low-income consumers often lack the more expensive safety features of autos sold in the West. But that discount comes with a price.  Nearly 1.3 million people die in road accidents every year, most of them in low and middle-income countries, according to the WHO.

Prevention Better Than Cure

Krug says people can reduce that number by strapping on motorbike helmets, wearing seatbelts and not speeding or driving drunk. Governments, he says, should have better trauma response and uphold strict safety rules, as they have in Vietnam.

“We've seen almost overnight after the introduction of motorcycle law in Vietnam an increase from about 20 percent of motorcycle helmet wearing to about 100 percent,” he says.

Another option is to stay off the roads altogether. That was Rajaraman's choice this week when he bought a train ticket to make a 12-hour journey to Mumbai.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid