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Police on road fatalities

Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri
Saturday, February 23, 2013

Road safety is everyone's responsibility. Fiji Police Force had vigorously brought about various forms of awareness in view of the number of road carnage.

Road accidents are something we are all aware of, but which most of us rarely think seriously about. Injuries and death caused by road accidents have become a familiar part of our lives' background. Most people know someone—a friend or relative—who has been in a car accident. Yet, people are largely unconscious of the risks they run every day when they set out to drive to work, school or the supermarket. The number of injuries and deaths caused on the road every year is staggering: many many die each year, many are injured and many are affected for the rest of their lives.

This year the road death toll so far is seven despite the joint effort enforced with stakeholders like Land Transport Authority and National Road Safety Council.

Operations and awareness are put forward around the year to ensure the safety of the drivers, pedestrian and many other road users. Despite the effort one can see that the road death toll is still around us affecting the loved ones and many others.

In an instant, fatal accident changes a person's life forever. Each year, many unsuspecting drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are killed on the roads and the main question we ask ourselves is why.

There are many different reasons why road fatalities occur on the roads of Fiji and this is of a concern to the Fiji Police force Traffic Unit working tirelessly in trying to educate both the pedestrians and motorists of safe road usage.

Causes of accidents:

* Speeding—increases the risk of being involved in crash and serious injuries and death. Driving too fast and above the desired speed limit is dangerous at all times.

* Drivers must drive within speed limit and consider the weather and road condition.

* Within the speed limit will enable a driver to take control of the vehicle whenever required to do so.

* Judge the speed of your vehicle

* Judge the distance between your car and the other cars

* Notice traffic signals

* See pedestrians and other potential hazards

* Stay awake when you are driving

Seatbelt—The basic idea of a seatbelt is very simple. It keeps you from flying through the window shield or hurdling forward the dash board when the car comes to an abrupt stop or involved in a collision. Wearing seat belt saves lives and helps prevent injuries.

* Always make a habit to buckle seat belt up front and back before driving off.

* Do not put your kids at risk as they are at a higher risk of death and injuries due to their size and weight.

* Children below the age of 8 to be strapped on a child restraint.

Pedestrians—always keep a lookout for pedestrians and be ready to stop for them. Some of the places to look out for pedestrians are:

* At pedestrian crossings

* Intersections

* Between parked cars or behind buses

* Near schools and playgrounds

* Near shopping centres

* Near hotels, taverns or clubs where people have been drinking alcohol.

Fatigue—Driver fatigue (driving when you are tired) is a major road safety hazard. Fatigue related crashes tend to be severe because sleepy drivers don't take evasion action. The risk of serious injury to a driver, passengers or the occupants of the other vehicle in this type of crash is very high.

* Have proper rest or sleep before commencing the journey

* Take regular breaks to walk and stretch yourself.

* Get fresh air into the vehicle.

* Learn to recognise the signs of sleepiness and pull over as soon as possible for a short break.

Some effects of Road Fatalities

* Sudden effects on family structure—Road traffic crashes have a devastating emotional impact on the families and communities involved: every death represents the loss of a father, wife, son, daughter, brother or sister. And there is an equally devastating economic impact: the sudden violence of a road death often robs a family of its only breadwinner. Many serious injuries will require significant amounts of long-term care, including outpatient appointments, surgical procedures, district nurse services and the provision of medical equipment. Road injuries can impose a lifelong cost of caring for severely disabled family members.

* Loss of Employment—Road fatalities cause severe injuries and this leaves devastating psychological effects on the families of victims. Once injured the victim is unable to perform work and this has a greater impact on the day to day living. No earning results in many ways within a family.

* Permanent Disability—The effects of road fatalities shatters the dreams of everyone and life is in a miserable state where one will think of many things to do and unable to perform due to the disability caused after the impact of collision. Children and young people who are left with facial or bodily disfigurement from a road accident may experience social and psychological problems that can have far-reaching effects. Coming to terms with their changed appearance and other people's reactions can be difficult; the child may have to learn how to cope with staring, insensitive comments, name-calling and bullying. They may develop social anxieties and low-self esteem which can have an impact on their education and future employment.

* Family Breakdown—for some, it can lead to family breakdown, job loss and depression. Some parents never recover from the trauma of a sudden and violent death. Bereaved families need ongoing support to cope with their loss and to guide them through procedures such as inquests and court hearings.

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