Like a force of nature…

Happy New Year to you! Back in the sharp light of day after the Xmas/NYE partying, the front page of Le Monde caught my eye this morning. They’re calling 2010 the “Year of Natural Disasters”:

“295,000 deaths, 130 billion dollars in damages…”

With all respect to the people of Haiti and other devastated areas, there is a bigger and, importantly, more controllable threat to our friends and neighbours on this planet:

According to the WHO, nearly 400,000 people are killed in road traffic crashes every year just in the under 25 age bracket. The global total is an estimated 1.2 million people dead and 50 million injured.

Road traffic collisions cost an estimated US$ 518 billion globally in material, health and other expenditure. For many low- and middle-income countries, the cost of road crashes represents between 1-1.5% of GNP and in some cases exceeds the total amount the countries receive in international development aid.

Sobering, isn’t it.

But this force of nature is controllable. Preventable. If the political will is there to enforce existing laws, to bring in new laws (eg. strict liability), to lower speeds, to educate drivers as to the responsibility involved in handling a dangerous (and danger-causing) vehicle, to invest in traffic calming and road redesigns that benefit non-motor-vehicle (ie. significantly less danger-causing) travel, this number can be lowered. A lot. Without this political foresight, it’s simply not going to happen.

"30 on Red" (Wellington, NZ) by 4nitsirk @ flickr

I’m making 2011 a year of political persuasion. How about you?

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