1376 people died on our rods this past Festive Season, even though this number was slightly lower to last year's there really is no excuse for so many people to die during the time that we should all be celebrating!
Having just returned from Indonesia and seeing the staggering number of bikes, tuk-tuks, motor bikes of all shapes and sizes, cars, truck and busses, the buzz is overwhelming, and for me it was a real eye opener as I noticed that Indonesians have such immense respect for their fellow drivers that in three weeks of congested road madness I have not seen a single accident or even an innocent bump.
Studies done by the World Bank have uncovered the relationship between traffic safety and the economic state of a country. Traffic crash fatality rates correlate with the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) according to Elizabeth Kopits & Maureen Cropper, who published a study on this in 2003. Today, more than 90% of all road deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, according to WHO. Globally, the road death rate for low-income nations is double the rate in high-income nations.
In Indonesia there is a certain sense of respect on the road that I have not found anywhere else in the world. Even when stuck in kilometre long traffic jams drivers remain calm. Not once have I seen road rage or abuse even though I was shocked and amazed at the way they manage to squeeze into gaps, push in front of the car from all lanes and the reaction is usually a laugh or a grunt but never violence, something that happens so often in our country.
Education and a change in mind set in the entire culture is needed if we want people to abstain from drunk driving, to refuse speeding, to drive defensively and to respect other traffic participants. No plan for action will work, when focusing on operational safety without taking the psychological, sociological and political aspects into account.
One profound lesson I picked up on my recent travel was that if we do not respect each other as a nation, if we do not show love and compassion to each other in our every day dealings we will not break the cycle of the senseless deaths on our roads. Respect for human life is all that will bring the number of death on our roads down. So drive with love.