Weak enforcement of road safety rules: WHO

The chance of dying in road accidents is higher in Bhutan than in populous neighbours like Bangladesh and Pakistan.

 

Annual deaths per 100,000 people in the country are more than 15, according to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) report, Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015.

 

Bangladesh and Pakistan have 13.6 and 14.2 deaths per 100,000 people, respectively. With 16.6 persons, India has a higher rate than Bhutan in the South Asia region.

 

Out of the total deaths in Bhutan, three percent constitute pedestrians. However, in terms of pedestrian deaths, Bhutan has the lowest death rate in the region. It is nine percent in India and 29 percent in Sri Lanka. The figure includes those who died of injuries sustained in road crashes.

 

The WHO commends most of Bhutan’s road safety rules such as motorcycle helmet and drink-driving laws. However, the report shows enforcement of road safety rules has been weak.

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Bhutan scored five out of 10 on enforcement of safety speed limits. The drink-driving rule also suffers from poor implementation, according to the report.

 

Although Bhutan has a rule on car seat belt, its enforcement has been weak with Bhutan scoring only three on 10.

 

With the motorcycle helmet law strictly implemented, Bhutan scored 10 out of 10. The WHO also states that there is no law that restricts children sitting in the front seat.

 

The report states there are no formal audits for new road construction projects and no regular inspections of existing road infrastructure. But the report acknowledges the government’s policy to promote public transport in the country.

 

The WHO report also points out the lack of system for protection of pedestrian and emergency room injury surveillance system in the country.

 

There were a total of 68,173 vehicles in the country as of last year.

 

According to the report, low- and middle-income countries have double the fatality rate of pedestrian’s death than that of the richer countries. Pedestrian death contributes 90 percent of the global deaths on roads.

 

Countries that have had the most success in reducing the number of road traffic deaths have achieved this by improving legislation, enforcement, and making roads and vehicles safer.

 

The report indicates that worldwide the total number of road traffic deaths has plateaued at 1.25 million per year, with the highest road traffic fatality rates in low-income countries.

 

It states that more attention must be given to the needs of pedestrians and cyclist. “Making walking and cycling safer is critical to reducing the number of road traffic deaths and is important for achieving the Decade of Action for Road Safety’s aim to promote non- motorized forms of transport,” the report states.