Increased ‘traffic surveillance key to safety’

 18 Nov 2015 - 1:01

Increased ‘traffic surveillance key to safety’
Brigadier Mohamed Al Malki (left), Secretary, National Committee for Road Safety organising the 24th Traffic Medicine Conference, felicitates Brigadier Mohamed Saad Al Kharji, Director-General, Traffic Department and (RIGHT) honours Eizeldin Abdulrahman, from Dar Al Sharq, publishers of The Peninsula and Al Sharq newspapers which is sponsoring the conference.


DOHA: Without a comprehensive increase in traffic surveillance it is difficult to achieve safety, according to Dr Marie Skyving, from Swedish Transport Agency, Stockholm.
In his paper ‘Strada: Road traffic accident and injury data in Sweden’, he said one of many important measures in the later road safety work in Sweden is a project to reduce speed  — implementation of speed cameras.
Strada is road safety camera system in Sweden.
Sharing his experiences on the second day of the 24th World ITMA Congress yesterday, he said the Swedish Road Administration and the National Police Board put up the first speed cameras, or road safety cameras, in the late 1990s and at the end of 2014 there were 1,200 cameras monitoring 3,000km of road stretches. 
Before deciding where to install the cameras, the Swedish road traffic crash and injury surveillance system (Strada), was used to spot where accidents happened most frequently. 
STRADA is also a tool in follow-up work when evaluating effects of the cameras. The project has been and still a successful road safety work. 
When looking at data from STRADA from three examples (Roads 222, 225 and 268) of about 120 roads with speed cameras, one can see, when comparing a four- year period before and after speed cameras, fatal accidents were reduced from eight to three, and accidents with serious injuries as an outcome from 65 to 28. 
The cameras have reduced the average speed by five percent and are now appreciated to save up to 20 lives and up to 50 people from being seriously injured per year.
Yesterday’s event witnessed discussions on the importance of awareness and community education presented by experts from across the world. 
Dr Abbas Motevalian, Professor of Medical Science at Iran University in Tehran said mandatory pre-licence riding must be made compulsory for those seeking the licence to ride a motorcycle. He presented a paper ‘Evidence-based safety education and training for traffic injury prevention’.
Kurt Bodewig, President, German Road Safety Association, Germany, spoke on challenges for road safety in fast-developing societies. He forced the way of the Vision Zero as a permanent strategy to reduce accidents and avoid victims of the fast-growing road traffic. 
In this strategy are some components which have to be realised. One is an intensive campaigning for more safety by changing the behaviour of car users in traffic and the mobility of passengers and strict rules which have to be accepted by car owners and users. 
The third main aspect is the construction of roads with a self-explaining structure to be secure by using them. “We also need a functioning rescue system for the victims of accidents which help save life in the worst case. All these measures have to be implemented in a short time to achieve educational effects and reduce accidents. Our experience in Europe, Iran and China are good basements for necessary roll-out processes.”
He said safety education and training is one of the basic injury prevention strategies, although there are concerns about its effectiveness. Pedestrian safety education can increase the knowledge of children and improve their road crossing behaviour, but its effectiveness on road traffic injuries remained unknown. 
More evidence for adult pedestrians, especially the elderly, is needed. Bicycle skill training for children and youth may increase their safety knowledge, but not necessarily improve their behaviour or decrease their injury rates. 
Non-legislative interventions were found effective for increasing helmet use among bicyclists. Education-only interventions were less effective than those providing free helmet. 
Mandatory pre-licence rider training is an obstacle in motorcycle licensing process, so it indirectly reduces crashes through reduction in exposure. There is moderate evidence that only educational intervention is not effective in reducing traffic crashes. Evidence supports the effectiveness of interventions to retrain older drivers. Systematic reviews show education-only interventions are rarely effective on prevention of traffic crashes. 
Except for some interventions like post-licence driver education which has strong evidence based on a large number of participants, in most subject interventions, more rigorous investigation is needed, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Dr Abdullah Al Otaibi, from Forensic Science College, Naif Arab University for Security Science, Riyadh, talked about the axis of society and education, in  his paper ‘The Relation between driving vehicles and drug addiction behaviour shed light on the situation in Saudi Arabia’.
He said the number of accidents is very high in Saudi Arabia which requires a constant study and joint efforts from authorities concerned.
He explained how the brain works to reduce traffic problems through knowledge. He also explained the role of drugs and their impact on the functioning of the brain that leads to the decline of neurons and function as separate units as they are independent brains. Anyhow, it hardly communicates. Its affect on awareness and education problem, as well as behaviour is well-known, he said.
Dr Ghassan Abu-Lebdeh, from the Department of Civil Engineering, American University of Sharjah, spoke on ‘Traffic public health impacts: Crashes and beyond’ and said traffic crashes were the obvious and tragic outcome of a complex process of which traffic, human factors, roadway engineering and surrounding environment are contributing factors. 
Traffic operations, however, inflict more physical and psychological harm on human health, albeit it is not immediately obvious as crashes. Some harms show symptoms over the long-term, possibly a lifetime. 
Joanne Banfield, from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada, spoke on innovative strategies to reduce traffic injuries and deaths in youth. She said road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in the 15-29  age group. 
It is generally accepted that the high rate of adolescent injuries may be due to many factors. Studies have shown young drivers are more likely to underestimate the probability of specific risks caused by traffic situations, and overestimate their driving skills, making them more vulnerable to trauma. 
It has also been hypothesised that adolescents are more prone to motor vehicle collisions due to risk-taking attitudes. There is a consensus among experts of road safety that the best road safety strategies and programmes are based on research-driven and psycho-social theories of behaviour. The P.A.R.T.Y. (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth) is one of the programme. Developed in 1986, it is a one-day in hospital injury awareness and prevention programme for youth aged 15 and above. Dr Susan Dun, from Northwestern University in Qatar, spoke on ‘Why wear a seat belt? I’m going to die anyway: Young Arab men’s rationales for deadly driving behaviours”.

The Peninsula