Road accidents are among the major and most common causes of death. According to the UN, traffic-resulting injuries are expected to rank third worldwide by 2020. Accident-incurred damages spread beyond the directly concerned parties, (whether the direct accountable or injured), because they reflect negatively upon society as a whole, by crippling the capacities of individuals and their families, and lead to a social and economic disorder and waste of resources, in addition to damages to private and public property.
Given the burden these accidents put over countries worldwide, many took initiatives to curb this danger and increase road safety. The United Nations has called on member countries to cooperate in taking initiatives that enhance road safety. It also called on Regional Commissions and their agencies to outline plans to assist developing countries in enhancing its road safety.
The Need for Awareness
The two-part UN-ESCWA study on this level, entitled “An Overview of Road Safety in Selected Countries from the ESCWA region”, found that the economic cost of road accidents is estimated at 1% of the GDP in low-income countries, 1.5% in middle-income countries (which equals 65 billion US dollars, and constitutes more than these countries receive in development aid) and 2% in high-income countries. It is well known that most Middle Eastern countries face the dilemma of road accidents that top those in developed countries. The study, which dealt with UN-ESCWA member countries, found that the need was great to improve drivers’ training and testing. Awareness and education programs on road safety are also deficient and lack clear planning. The study also featured road safety legislation in member countries, specific procedures for driving tests, drivers’ licenses, and road accidents, in addition to recommendations for improving the safety level.