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:
- 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.