Monday, June 30, 2014

Maura's death and preventing more like it


A beautiful young woman died yesterday in El Salvador.   Maura Ramos was 24 years old and died from injuries she sustained in a traaffic accident.   It was a terrible loss for those who knew her.  Maura was active in service to her community, a teacher of English, a leader in her church who had spoken of being a pastor.  

Unfortunately, Maura's story is all too familiar in El Salvador. A thousand or more people die on El Salvador's roads each year. Through June 25, 454 persons had been killed in traffic accidents in El Salvador in 2014.   That is more than two per day.   Of those deaths, 247 people who died were pedestrians.   More than 3600 people have been injured.

In addition to Maura's death this weekend, another accident injured 28 people and killed a seven year-old when a truck crashed carrying 30 people with an inexperienced, under-aged driver who was speeding.   La Prensa Grafica chronicled other accidents over the weeked as well.

In a 2014 statement, transportation officials in El Salvador listed the top 5 causes of accidents as:

  • Distracted drivers
  • Driving outside of lanes
  • Following too close
  • Not respecting traffic signals
  • Going the wrong way on traffic circles

That list would seem to overlook other major contributing caused including:

  • Alcohol, 
  • Excessive speed, 
  • Poorly maintained vehicles, 
  • Absence of seatbelt use, 
  • Poorly maintained roads and intersections, 
  • Overloaded vehicles.

The Inter-American Development Bank is one organization which has been working with governments throughout Latin America to reduce the numbers of highway fatalities, but the IADB notes that it requires all sectors of the country -- the government, civil society, media, schools, and ordinary drivers  -- to make a concerted effort if there will be any improvement.

A World Bank official who works on traffic safety in Latin America told the Guardian newspaper earlier this year:
"Working on road safety means working on equality, because the lack of safety mainly affects the most vulnerable users, who are also the most vulnerable segments of society," says Raffo. "The second pillar is safe infrastructure, roads and urban mobility; the third is safe vehicles and drivers; the fourth is educational and awareness-raising policies; and the fifth is a key issue: post-accident response, that so many lives depend on."
What makes for safe roads and streets in El Salvador and elsewhere is no secret.   We owe it to Maura and the thousands of other accident victims to work to implement those solutions.



2 comments:

Kevin said...

Another cause of injuries/ fatalities may be the lack of pedestrian/bicycle/wheelchair- ramped street/highway bridges and underpasses.

Wayne said...

I drive from San Salvador to San Miguel once a week, racking up a lot of miles, and have seen more than my share of accidents and carnage on the Litoral Highway. Typical problems include - cows being herded along/across the road (cattle being completely unpredictable), vehicles making u-turns from the shoulder without checking traffic in either direction first (always fun), pedestrians crossing the highway at night in dark clothing, broken down overloaded vehicles creeping along at 20 kph, trucks with no tailights at night, motorcyles with no lights at all, tractor trailers and 10 wheelers hauling cane at 10 kph, you get the picture. Here in El Salvador, the risks associated with distracted driving are essentially magnified 10X. And don't even think about driving drowsy.