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Road safety a global concern

Barry Alleyne

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The world is taking note of safety on the road.So much so that the next ten years have been designated by the United Nations as the Decade Of Road Safety.The aim is to reduce vehicular accidents by 50 per cent worldwide so as to reduce the already exorbitant costs of treating accident victims.According to Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce, Barbados will definitely participate in any initiative aimed at increasing the protection of pedestrians and drivers, as well as easing the pressure off the Accident and Emergency Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.Boyce made this promise yesterday while delivering the keynote address at a road safety seminar organised by the Royal Barbados Police Force and the General Insurance Association of Barbados.The minister said the countries of the world all had their problems with road safety and serious accidents, as evidenced by more than 1 000 ministers and technocrats from across the globe converging in Moscow, Russia, last year for the first ever Global Ministerial Conference On Road Safety.“The conference marked a major turning point in global awareness of the road safety concerns as a developmental issue,” Boyce said. “It signalled the transition from individual, regional and national programmes on road safety to a global one.”He said the main objective of the conference was to come up with solutions, programmes and measures to reduce serious accidents worldwide by half, since hospital treatment for serious accidents was costing around $100 billion annually, and more than one million people died on the road every year.The minister said accidents did not happen, they were caused; and if they were caused, then they could be prevented.Boyce noted that Government was currently preparing a national road safety report and would move swiftly to formulate a national road safety policy before establishing the country’s first National Road Safety Council, which would be the lead agency responsible for road safety governance and an “action plan” developed from the policy.