Remembering victims of traffic accidents worldwide

November 14, 2014

On Sunday, November 16, all member countries will celebrate the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, an effort led by the United Nations (UN). In Greece, the SOS Road Crimes group is asking participants to gather and bring well-worn shoes to remind others of “the traveler and his unfulfilled desires.” In London, the Brahma Kumaris Spiritual University will lead an hour of meditation dedicated to victims. In Lahore, Pakistan, a walk and candlelight vigil is scheduled.

two cars crashed in europe

Forgive its cumbersome name: “World day of remembrance for road traffic victims.” The UN can easily afford the syllables. From CJB.

The events are varied, with some countries choosing to honor the day—recognized annually on the third Sunday of November—by emphasizing this year’s theme: Speed Kills—Design Out Speeding. While behavioral improvements like increased seatbelt use and reductions in drunk driving have lowered collision fatalities in the United States, for example, speeding-related deaths actually rose 7% during the recent multiyear period covered by a study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

There is also a growing awareness of the importance of speed limits. If a vehicle moving at 30 mph hits a pedestrian, that person is eight times more likely to die than if the car had been traveling at 20 mph, experts say. Officials in New York City have heeded that message, and earlier this month lowered the city’s default speed limit to 25 mph.

But positive developments in transportation policy and regulations are more urgently needed in developing countries, where a theme like Money Kills may be more appropriate.

That’s because the increasing wealth of nations such as China and India has meant rising rates of car ownership, which creates more opportunities for traffic accidents. India, for instance, counts the highest overall number of road fatalities, with China and the United States following. And that’s despite the fact that China has about one-third fewer vehicles than the United States, but roughly 20,000 more traffic deaths each year.

Indeed, the World Health Organization has predicted that road traffic deaths will be the fifth leading cause of death by 2030. That forecast was enough to prompt the UN’s “Decade of Action” initiative, which launched in 2011 and seeks to “stabilize and then reduce” road traffic fatalities worldwide by 2020.

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is part of that campaign, but there is no permanent or official memorial for all victims of road traffic accidents.

Instead, motorists may be more familiar with makeshift roadside markers—indicated by white crosses sometimes or flower arrangements or bicycle wheels for cyclist deaths—at sites where fatalities occurred.

Enforcers occasionally tolerate the displays, with some localities banning them outright and others providing official channels for grieving family members. In Oklahoma, for instance, they are not allowed, but Florida offers a Memorial Marker Program.

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Category: Miscellaneous

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