Can COVID-19 teach us something for the road safety epidemic?
- Dr. Soames Job, BA (Honours 1), PhD, GAICD, FACRS |April 14, 2020
As the world struggles through the tragic COVID-19 pandemic, it may be also worth considering another health crisis, which has been silently going on for decades. COVID-19 and road crashes wreak suffering, loss, death, grief, and economic hardship. COVID-19 has already killed 119,000 with more to come especially as the pandemic hits low- and middle-income countries with low capacity to manage the crisis. Road crashes kill 1.35 million people and injure up to another 50 million people each year.
Various comparisons between COVID-19 and road crash deaths are being made, some suggesting that the scale of the road safety problem puts the seriousness of the COVID-19 crisis in perspective. Rather than comparing the extent of suffering and death wrought by these two horrific causes, there may be broader lessons we can learn to save many lives and much future suffering. Six such lessons for consideration after COVID-19 is gone, for the future of transport, work, and cities are suggested here.
- Reducing exposure to road transport
- Re-envisioning our working lives, transport and infrastructure
- Maintaining our values
- Embracing system accountability instead of touting individual responsibility
- Addressing the political dimension
- Developing stronger deterrence of lockdown breaches
The current dramatic experience with COVID-19 provides guidance on re-design of our work and cities as well as generating revamped government accountability for health externalities caused by traffic, particularly road crashes and fatalities. Along with all the suffering, loss, and upheaval of COVID-19, we have the opportunity to evolve.
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