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Not outcry enough over road victims

beadottin, beadottin@nationnews.com

Added 23 November 2012

As some Barbadians gathered last Sunday to pray for greater safety on the roads, at least one traffic victim was being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for injuries. The congregation of the New Testament Church Of God at River Road had joined bereaved relatives of those killed by past road accidents, and the Barbados Road Safety Association to observe World Day Of Remembrance For Traffic Victims. That Sunday morning accident had resulted in no fatality, but up to then figures for people dying on Barbados’ roads for the year had surpassed those of 2011 – with just over a month to go for the completion of 2012. For 2010 and 2011 there were 21 road fatalities each, but reportedly for this year so far there have been 24 traffic-related deaths, ensuring that Barbados ends 2012 with no fewer than two road deaths a month. The Road Safety Association has stated that there is an average annual rate of 763 accident victims for every 100 000 people on the island.   “Road traffic accidents leave behind shattered families and communities,” the association’s second vice-president John Herbert said to the River Road church congregation when offering a prayer. Since 1995, the World Health Organization has dedicated the third Sunday in November each year to the remembrance of traffic victims worldwide. Mr Herbert relayed WHO statistics showing that almost 1.3 million people die on roads worldwide every year, equating to about 3 000 a day. About 50 million more are injured or disabled. Additionally, WHO states that these accidents are the leading cause of deaths among people between the ages of 15 and 29. Underscoring the uncertainty of Barbados road travel, Mr Herbert told the Sunday worshippers: “Whenever you get from point A to point B, you need to give thanks.” He opined that if the WHO figures of death were the result of something other than road accidents, they would have received more attention. Mr Herbert alluded to the Australian case in the late 1960s and early 1970s when 460 soldiers of that country were killed in the Vietnam War, and people took to the streets demanding their soldiers return home; but for that same period 10 000 plus had died on Australia’s roads with no similar outcry.   The Road Safety Association head spoke of the carelessness by many drivers and the emerging adventurism of motorcyclists on Barbados’ roads. Stressing that road accidents and road deaths got scant regard from people unless the victims were known to them, New Testament Church Of God pastor  Reverend Gregney Holder said what impacted people was hearing of or seeing a name they recognized.

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