Almost 90 people die in road accidents each month in Laos and the figure is rising at an alarming rate so amidst increasing public concern the government needs to enhance its efforts to deal with the issue.
In only seven months of this year, a total of 3,390 road accidents were reported in Laos with 599 deaths and 5,657 injured, according to police report this week.
The largest number of fatalities was reported in Vientiane with 100 killed in accidents, followed by Savannakhet province (73 fatalities), Champassak province (62 deaths), Borikhamxay province (48 deaths), Luang Prabang province (38 deaths) and Oudomxay province (34 deaths). Police attributed the main cause of the rising number of road accidents and fatalities to drink driving, failure to comply with traffic regulations and speeding. On average, 80 percent of road accidents involve people aged 15 to 44.
Vientiane Police Traffic Advertisement Unit Head Major Bounmark Soundalay told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that the actions of ill disciplined drivers are the cause of a large number of accidents.
A lack of respect for the road rules is a contributing factor in many vehicle collisions but often, innocent parties end up dying as a result. All too often it is the reckless actions of those in cars and pickup trucks that end up killing unsuspecting motorcyclists and even pedestrians.
It is common to see large vehicles travelling at high speeds and then overtaking slower traffic with little or no regard for people waiting to turn left or even those in the other lane coming in the opposite direction.
Deputy Chief of Vientiane Traffic Police Department Major Youtthaphong Souvannasin said a lack of street lights, signs, potholes in roads and other conditions also contributed to road accidents.
Major Youtthaphong said the design of many roads in Laos cannot cope with the rising number of vehicles, contributing to traffic jams, congestion and the consequent reckless driving and road accidents.
“There is the need for our police to enhance road safety campaigns in the entire society aiming to raise awareness for the general public to strictly follow traffic regulations to minimise the road accidents,” Mr Youtthaphong said.
“We are now preparing our police forces for a road safety campaign project with the advent of the new fiscal year in the formal education system. Our police will disseminate traffic regulations and road safety for people at schools and at T-junction roads.”
Observers said the enforcement of traffic regulations is very weak in Laos with many people drinking and driving illegally. The awareness of the law is low and law enforcement sectors aren’t serious about fining or taking legal action against those violating the traffic rules.
In 2012, some 6,146 accidents occurred in Laos with 888 fatalities. 6,044 accidents were reported in 2013 with 873 fatalities.
Given the significance of road safety, the government last year approved a national strategy aimed at reducing the number of fatalities by 50 percent by 2020.
Source: Vientiane Times & photo by J&C (taken yesterday)