Road Safety is another project for Lankans

For nearly thirty years, we had a conflict in our land that took away the lives of thousands and seriously injured similar numbers every year. That is now over with the humanitarian operation to defeat the forces of terror to which the entire nation contributed. Today we need another humanitarian operation on our roads to save the thousands of valuable lives lost and those injured by road accidents each year. We cannot, as a society let this tragedy on our roads continue, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

“Road accidents like armed conflict is a hazardous threat to society and to progress. Road Safety removes such threats and points the way to real progress. The Traffic Signs we read must be those of Progress on Safer Roads. Therefore, we as Sri Lankans should join hands and come forward with the commitment needed to conquer this threat to society,” President said inaugurating the National Road Safety Conference at Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo this morning .

Full text of the speech:

Hon. Ministers
Excellencies
Senior Officials of the Government
Friends

I am indeed happy to inaugurate this National Road Safety Conference that seeks to address a very serious aspect of development affecting human life, the health services … and a significant cost to the national economy.

It is significant that this Conference is associated with the launch of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety from 2011 to 2020 to bring international focus on the adverse aspects of health and socio-economic progress caused by what has now become an epidemic of road accidents the world over.

The Select Committee of Parliament studying this matter of great importance has noted that around 150 road accidents are reported daily in our country with the loss of five to six valuable lives. In the ten years from 2000 to 2009 alone, we have lost over Twenty one thousand (21,000) lives from such accidents with close to One hundred and eighty thousand (180,000) persons sustaining injuries of which nearly Forty six thousand (46,000) were serious injuries.

It is also significant that sixty-five per cent of such deaths were of mainly young persons in the productive age group of sixteen to fifty-five. This is a great loss of a section of the country’s human resource for development who are also bread winners and important economic supporters of families. It is also important to note that the Government also spends billions of rupees every year for the treatment of the injured in road accidents.

It is also alarming that motor cycles are at the top of the accidents list with lorries and private buses following. I was rather surprised to learn that most accidents on the roads occur because of speeding and over-taking and while turning. The Police must take note of the fact that twenty three per cent of the accidents are caused by drivers without licence. This is a very serious matter for us to focus on.

Friends,

What all of this and other statistics of road accidents and their causes show is the need for urgent action to change this situation as we progress on the road to economic development and a free society. It is imperative we cannot move ahead on the road to sustainable development without increasing and improving the standards of human safety on our roads.

As we increase investment on the improvement, widening, and modernizing of our road infra-structure road safety has to be given the highest consideration. This is especially important in the development of roads in urban areas the extension of national roads  the modernizing and expansion of railways and the opening of new highways and expressways.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is time for us to have a clear Road Map to Road Safety in Sri Lanka. I am committed to encourage and support every positive action taken towards better road safety in our country.

As we see it today, tough measures such as the increase of fines and penalties to discourage bad road behaviour must go together with better education and training of both drivers and pedestrians. With rapid economic growth there must also be preventive action to minimize traffic accidents which could increase with the coming of new highways and expressways. This extends to the railways, too as we upgrade and modernize the rail network in the country with much faster trains on
track.

As we pay attention to better traffic rules and their proper enforcement with favour to none we must also look seriously at the
need to provide accident victims with prompt and quality medical care and ambulance services with properly trained para-medical personnel.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The building of a better Road User Culture requires the co-operation of many stake-holders. Among these, the Ministry of Education the Traffic Police and the Ministry of Transport have a key role to play along with others in the state, private and volunteer sectors. I recall the time many years ago when the Traffic Police went to schools and gave live demonstrations of Road Safety.

It seems time now to resume such campaigns in the present context.

There should be innovative ways to reach out to students with new educational tools that will focus on good road manners and road safety.

With parents being the primary role model for children it is important that the everyday example of parents help to instill the basics of road safety among children. This applies to teachers, too. The Traffic Police and other community stakeholders can and must cultivate responsible road use among our children and youth. Together with this must go the tough action against driving after consumption of liquor and the firm, enforcement of laws in this regard.

Ladies and Gentlemen

For nearly thirty years, we had a conflict in our land that took away the lives of thousands and seriously injured similar numbers every year. That is now over with the humanitarian operation to defeat the forces of terror to which the entire nation contributed. Today we need another humanitarian operation on our roads to save the thousands of valuable lives lost and those injured by road accidents each year. We cannot, as a society let this tragedy on our roads continue.

Road accidents like armed conflict is a hazardous threat to society and to progress. Road Safety removes such threats and points the way to real progress. The Traffic Signs we read must be those of Progress on Safer Roads. Therefore, we as Sri Lankans should join hands and come forward with the commitment needed to conquer this threat to society.

Because we defeated terrorism, now there are attempts to take us before War Tribunals. I am not sure whether a similar attempt would be made if we eliminate the “road terrorism” as well.

Let me take this opportunity to thank the National Council for Road Safety of the Ministry of Transport for organizing this event and the WHO for sponsoring it. I also thank the Select Committee of Parliament for the attention given to this issue that is of great and current importance.

I wish your conference every success and once again assure you of the firm commitment of our Government to the best standards of safety on our roads.

 

Source: Government News Portal

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