Because of their relatively greater numbers in developing countries, children represent a much greater proportion of road and car accident casualties than they do in developed countries. Thus a comparison of the age distribution of people in developed and developing countries showed that 20 per cent of those killed in road and car accidents in developing countries were aged under 15 whilst the equivalent figure killed in road and car accidents in developed countries was 10 per cent.
This points to the values of developing teaching aids regarding road and car accident safety for use in Third World Countries, similar to those developed for use in schools in Great Britain and other developed countries.
Another important factor is the implementation of police enforcement for road and car accident safety measures. The most promising evidence for the road safety benefits of enforcement in developing countries comes from Singapore and Egypt. In Singapore, a combined publicity and enforcement campaign appears to have lead to drops of 19 per cent in fatalities of road and car accidents and 50 per cent in serious injuries, of road and car accidents although there was a rise of 20 per cent in slight injuries of road and car accidents. In Egypt a package of police enforcement measures including radar, increased patrols and heavier penalties for traffic offences have had a significant effect on road and car accidents on two major inter-urban roads. On one of these roads there has been an overall reduction in the number of road and car accidents of over 50 per cent.
Perhaps the two most important measures that can be adapted to protect the road user during the course of car accidents are the use of seat belts for vehicle occupants, and crash helmets for motorcyclists. There has been growing evidence from the developed world that the compulsory wearing of seat belts results in a significant reduction in injuries, in car accidents particularly those of a more severe nature. The benefits of wearing a seat belt in any particular car accident situation should be similar in both developed and developing countries.
In view of the often poorer medical facilities, the benefits of wearing a seatbelt could in fact be greater in Third World Cities in the case of the more serious injuries a result of car accidents.
Regrettably, few Third World Countries have, as yet, introduced compulsory wearing of seat belts.
Road design is another factor thought to influence road and car accidents statistics. Outside central areas of cities only a relatively small proportion of road and car accidents may occur in clusters sufficiently large to justify the use of ‘site-specific’ engineering remedies. There is a tendency in residential area and often on arterial routes for road and car accidents to be scattered diffusely over the street system.
A considerable proportion of road and car accidents in those Third World Cities where data were available occurred on arterial routes (A and B roads) and in areas described as ‘other’, which were predominantly residential.
Work at the TRRL is currently directed towards dealing with this problem and research is being carried out in five cities in England. A preliminary study in Swindon showed that by the use of improved junction design, new or redesigned signal-controlled pedestrian crossings and the banning of right turns, road and car accidents in the study area were reduced by 10 per cent. On ‘controlled’ sections of arterial roads where no improvements were made, road and car accidents over the same period increased by 29 per cent, whilst on non-arterial routes, road and car accidents remained virtually the same.
It is important that safety features, such as those involving geometry, signing and delineation, be introduced at the design stage rather than be added later, as an ‘afterthought’. For example, it can often be greatly more expensive to widen the main roads at a T-junction after a road and car accident problem has built up than to incorporate it at the construction stage.
It has become appreciated in developed countries that planning can have a profound effect upon the level of road safety in a city reducing road and car accidents. The layout of roads in residential areas, for example, has been found to have a major impact upon the level of pedestrian accidents in particular.
Thus at the planning stage of residential areas in Third World cities, consideration should be given to road safety.
There is a lot that can be done to reduce road and car accidents in Third World Countries. Hopefully the resources will be made available to do this. In the long run there could be less car accidents and more lives saved.