United Nations calls for urgent intervention on road safety in Ethiopia as road traffic deaths in the country has more than doubled annually between 2007 and 2018, rising from 2,161 to 4,597.
A newly published United Nations report “UN Road Safety Performance Review” cited national statistics to show that the East African country loses 13 people per day, or one person every two hours, due to road traffic crashes.
“Given the magnitude of the road safety challenge, which constitutes a major burden on the social, economic and health sectors, more attention needs to be channeled to appropriate interventions,” according to the report released late Tuesday.
Unless decisive action is taken now, road crashes in Ethiopia are likely to increase significantly within the next decade. It is also likely that actual fatality figures in the country are larger than those nationally reported, given that data collection is paper based, leading to significant under-reporting and mis-classification of road traffic fatalities, said the report.
The concept of road safety is not systematically incorporated in road projects, it noted.
Currently, most roads in the country are two-way, two-lane roads with many substandard sections, including insufficient or non-existent street lighting, which is a major problem for pedestrian safety, it said.
The absence of traffic signage and road markings is also a serious concern, it said, adding that 79 percent of fatal crashes occurred on paved roads and only 19 percent on gravel and earth roads, whereas paved roads make up only 14 percent of the road network.
While passengers are the most vulnerable road users in Ethiopia, accounting for 52 percent of road deaths in 2018, pedestrians account for the majority of fatalities in urban areas, the report said.
Buses and commercial vehicles were involved in nearly 65 percent fatal crashes in the country in 2018. Used cars constitute over 85 percent of the vehicle fleet in Ethiopia, many of which are not equipped with basic safety features, it added.