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Road Traffic Accidents Remain Large Killer Of Young People

Source: Vientiane Times

Road accidents are among the single most common cause of death among people aged 5-29, a senior official has said.

Some 80 percent of road accidents involve young people, who are a significant part of the nation’s current and future workforce and contributors to national development, Minister of Public Works and Transport Mr Viengsavath Siphandone stated.

The minister was addressing a meeting of the Committee on Road Safety on Thursday, to highlight the importance of programmes to improve road safety across the country.

“The death rate per 100,000 people in Laos is about 11. This figure shows that road accidents remain an issue of great concern, threatening the growth of the national economy,” he said.

Over the past six years, the number of road-accident-related deaths has averaged 1,000 annually, resulting in a huge economic loss for the country, Mr Viengsavath said.

In 2021, more than 5,570 road traffic accidents were recorded, resulting in injuries to 8,388 people and 831 fatalities. In addition, 9,910 vehicles were damaged or destroyed, with the cost of damage exceeding 1.4 trillion kip.

The number of vehicles on the country’s roads continues to increase, which is leading to more accidents and traffic congestion.

The government has given the issue top priority and is intensifying measures to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities.

During the meeting, officials presented a report on the road safety programmes carried out in 2020 and 2021, the national strategy on road safety from 2021-2030, the action plan for 2021-2025, and law enforcement in relation to road safety.

The meeting reviewed the recent road safety programmes and the provision of rescue services aimed at reducing the number of fatalities.

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The number and severity of crashes has increased. The number of accidents increased by 35 percent between the years 2010 and 2020, while the number of fatalities increased by 67 percent, according to a recent survey.
The survey, conducted by the Department of Transport and the Traffic Police Department, with technical and financial support from the World Bank, found that the use of motorcycle helmets was limited and that risk-taking behaviour among drivers is prevalent.

Almost three-quarters of drivers in Vientiane routinely break speed limits and nearly a third of people driving in the evening have been drinking alcohol.

About one in three drivers tested positive for alcohol, with most being more than double over the legal alcohol limit allowed when driving.

Globally, low- and middle-income countries suffer 90 percent of road crash deaths and up to 50 million injuries annually.

These deaths and injuries frequently lead to economic hardship as well as poverty in many cases.