On 21st September 2018, a full day workshop was held to address growing concerns about road safety. The ACCF Chief Excecutive Officer delivered the following speech at the workshop.
Road safety is an issue that affects every one of us. Whether we are pedestrians, cyclists, drivers or passengers; road safety is a common challenge.
Human error, be it speed, fatigue, drink driving, distracted driving e.g. use of mobile devices, and pedestrian negligence are the main factors in road accidents. However, in addressing the issue of road safety, there is no need to reinvent the wheel if solutions to these common challenges already exist.
Forums of this nature are crucial as they are a vital platform for bringing stakeholders together, to share experiences, knowledge and solutions. With 52 Fijians having lost their lives on our roads this year, compared to 47 for the same period last year, there is a lot of work to do. However, we must remain positive and remember that this disturbing statistic can be turned around.
We can start by focussing on target setting, data collection and continuously monitoring results to ensure they are paying dividends.
Specific actions ranging from education and awareness campaigns for all road users, to legislative action and safety-focused regulations will also assist.
We should think bold and aspire to reach zero fatalities on our roads so that the pain and suffering comes to an end.
Cooperation with all stakeholders is also important, ensuring all interest groups are provided an opportunity to give input into this national issue. In this regard I urge you all to make the most of today.
A national approach to road safety is an important starting point, however, there is nothing preventing Fiji from going beyond its borders and seeking to address the issue regionally and globally. There are jurisdictions where road safety has dramatically improved and I am confident these countries will be more than willing to share their successes with us.
Many of the road safety issues can be addressed through education, engineering and enforcement.
Education, for example, could be something as simple as reviewing and updating driver training, with a view to improving and clarifying the safety requirements for all drivers.
From an engineering perspective, we need to continue to focus on infrastructure safety. Our roads should be planned, built and maintained to be safe - and remain safe. Any policy decisions to build or upgrade the road infrastructure should ensure road safety is a key consideration, which of course it is.
The third tool is enforcement. Exceeding speed limits, drink or distracted driving and failure to wear a seat belt are still some of the leading causes of death and serious injury. Although we have legislation to prevent these behaviours, many drivers involved in fatal accidents clearly failed to comply with one or more road traffic laws at the time of their accident.
Improvements in traffic law enforcement should be part of an integrated road safety policy, and have been shown internationally to lead to rapid reductions in deaths and injuries when applying best practice.
I have no doubt with the collective efforts of all stakeholders, including everyone here, Fiji’s Road Safety can be a success story.