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In today’s world, road traffic accidents (RTAs) stand as a significant issue, ranking as the seventh leading cause of death globally. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that by 2030, RTAs will rise to become the fifth-highest cause of death. Particularly alarming is the fact that between the ages of 5 to 44, accidents are the primary cause of death, ranking among the top three causes worldwide. The current Sustainable Development Goal 11.2 aims to provide everyone with access to secure, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport services by 2030. Despite accounting for only 60 per cent of all vehicles on the road, RTAs claim the lives of 1.35 million people annually, with 93 per cent of fatalities occurring in lower-middle-income nations according to the WHO.

The lack of adherence to fundamental road safety standards in the vehicles sold, also insufficient regulations explaining roadworthy vehicles is one of the primary causes for the increased rate of car accidents in these countries. According to the World Bank’s definitions based on gross national income (GNI) per capita, high-income countries usually record fewer road accident fatalities. The higher standards of road maintenance and stricter traffic laws in these countries contribute to the decreased number of road accidents.

As per statistics released by WHO 2021, children, adolescents and young adults are more commonly affected; road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years, and accidents involving men (about 73 percent of them) are more common than those involving women. Statistics also showed that with 20 to 50 million injuries that do not result in death but instead cause disability and a significant economic burden to individuals, families, and nations, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children and youth aged 5 to 29. The loss is attributed to the expense of medical care and the lost wages of the injured or deceased person. The reasons behind this high incidence of RTA in poor economic countries are that they do not have proper road infrastructure, they do not have enough money and workforce to provide awareness to the public about RTAs and they do not have quality vehicles that can prevent crashes from brake failure.

In Pakistan road safety is a major issue, which has a growing a economic as well as social impact. Our country is one of the most populous nations where RTAs are quite widespread, and the condition is getting worse by the day.

Pakistan is amongst the Asia’s top 50 countries with high RTA related mortalities. The Government of Pakistan acknowledged and adopted its first National Road Safety Strategy (2018-2030) in 2018 reported that, in every five minutes a person dies because of RTA in the country. As well as the enormous human suffering, the economic cost is estimated to be 3 to 5 percent of Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Furthermore, it also predicted that in the absence of fresh initiatives to improve road safety, there would be an increase of around 77 percent in 2020 and 200 percent by 2030. An estimated 3 percent of the GDP is lost yearly through the economy as a consequence of repairs for car damage and injuries brought on by traffic accidents. Whereas, WHO has estimated that Pakistan lost over 30,000 people to traffic accidents per year making it 20 out of every 100,000 people die in traffic accidents annually. It is estimated that 67% of RTAs in Pakistan may be attributed to human errors, followed by the poor infrastructure (28%) and unfit vehicles (5%).

Unsurprisingly, experts recorded that traffic accidents rank second, sixth, and twelfth in Pakistan in terms of disability, overall healthy-life-year losses, and premature fatalities, respectively. Road traffic injuries can be prevented. The Government of Pakistan must take action to address road safety in a holistic manner. This requires involvement from multiple sectors like transport, police, health and education, also the private sector and civil society organizations. It requires actions that address the safety of roads, vehicles and all road users. Effective interventions include designing safer infrastructure and incorporating road safety features into land-use and transport planning, enhancing the safety features of vehicles; enhancing post-crash care for victims of road traffic crashes; setting and enforcing laws relating to key risks, and raising public awareness. Pakistan’s rapid economic growth and expanding road infrastructure create an opportunity to significantly enhance the safety of the road transport system by better roads and roadsides, safe travel speeds, safe vehicles and enhanced safety awareness and compliance of all people who travel on our roads.

Common causes of car accidents
  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Inadequate vehicle maintenance
  • Inclement weather conditions
  • Inattentiveness while driving
  • Drowsiness while driving