More young lives lost on the road
By Sonia K

Calling the rising number of road fatalities in Brunei a very worrying situation, Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Masna yesterday said young road users are the ones that are most at risk from road accidents.

"As we know, every year more than one million people are killed and 50,000 others are injured or handicapped as a result of road accidents. Total fatalities are the highest when compared to other causes of death such as chronic diseases. The facts also show that more than 40 per cent of the deaths recorded consist of road users below 25 years old," said Her Royal Highness, who is also the Patron of the Brunei Darussalam Road Safety Council, in a sabda during the First United Nations Global Road Safety Week at the International Convention Centre yesterday.

Even though there is a slight reduction in the number of road accidents in Brunei compared to previous years, it is still considered high compared to other countries.

In the first three months of this year alone, there were 16 deaths caused by road accidents. This is a very worrying situation because it (death rate) has increased more than 100 per cent compared to seven during the same period last year, said HRH.

According to statistics from the Land Transport Department, more than 170,000 vehicles have been licensed and are active in the country. Every year, some 12,000 more vehicles are registered.

In realising this, concerns and steps from various sectors are needed and more so from road users themselves. HRH urged them to be tolerant, responsible and practise road safety.

To reduce the number of accident cases, some of the aspects that should be given special attention include education, sufficient infrastructure, legislation, implementation of laws and regulations that are more effective, campaigns to increase discipline on the roads and use of helmets and seat belts. These need to be organised continuously by relevant authorities, said HRH.

Besides these, international cooperation is also vital in assisting the efforts of our Road Safety Council through the sharing and exchange of information on successful strategies and programmes that have been implemented in other countries, said HRH Princess Hjh Masna.

On that note, the main goal for our Road Safety Council is to bring down Brunei Darussalam's death rate caused by road accidents to a minimum and on level with developed countries and in line with the aims of the United Nation's resolution, added Her Royal Highness.

The targets for road safety must be quantitative with its achievements measured and valued. Therefore, it is important for us to gather yearly information and analyse the said targets. These results can be used to get information to carry out further actions more effectively, said HRH.

HRH also said that currently, Asean countries including Brunei are carrying out Asean Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan for five years from 2005 to 2010. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is also playing its role in discussing issues on road safety to encourage its members to shape an overall strategy and action plan.

The event began with a welcoming remark by Dato Paduka Haji Yusof bin Haji Hassan, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications, who is also the Chairman of the Brunei Darussalam Road Safety Council.

Her Royal Highness also presented prizes to the winning schools that took part in the pilot Brunei Shell Petroleum Road Traffic Game.

It was held on March 18 at the newly built Brunei Shell Petroleum Road Traffic Game Park at the Oil and Gas Discovery Centre (OGDC) in Seria. - Borneo Bulletin (24th April 2007)