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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.