ALERT TODAY, ALIVE TOMORROW
Contributors: Bashar Salha, Mohamad Kheir El Daouk, Rani Abu Dehn, Raoul El Khazen, Rima Wehbe.
Road Safety: Background Information
The World Health Organization estimates that around 1.3 million people die and that 30 to 50 million are injured each year due to road crashes. Despite having road safety laws instituted in almost every country, road accidents are still the leading cause of death for young people aged 5-29 years old.
In Lebanon, this problem is felt by most because of the chaotic nature of our roads. Anyone who has experienced being a passenger or a driver in Lebanon is aware of the bumpy roads, the absent traffic lights, the disregard for speed limits and safety regulations, the lack of protection for walking pedestrians, the dark tunnels and the unlit autoroutes in the night. According to the World Bank, the traffic and roads situation in Lebanon is now “amongst the worst globally” whereby it has become much more dangerous than it previously was following the start of the economic crisis in 2019.
We believe that the deteriorating status of Lebanon’s economic and social development will continue to aggravate the issue of unsafe roads and unsafe driving. So, our aim for this study is to firstly showcase to the fullest extent the details of this problem through the use of primary and secondary data sources and secondly to design an impactful solution which can be validated by relevant stakeholders.
Below is our linked interactive dashboard which showcases the details of the problem visually.
Our overall findings and comments can be summarized as follows:
1. The youth is most prone to having accidents and dying in these accidents. This is from the fact that people who are aged from 15 till 29 constituted the largest share of deaths from accidents.
2. On a geographical level, we observed that the accidents are majorly happening in the caza of Mount Lebanon and Beirut. Moreover, the bulk of the deaths are happening in the district of Baabda and Metn.
3. Collisions involving pedestrians are the most dangerous.
4. On average, people make accidents in the spring and summer breaks. From a time perspective, these accidents are evident to increase in the evening, especially on weekends.
5. On average, for 86% of all accidents, the driver is at fault. In 13% of the crashes, the pedastrian is at fault. Also, the major reason behind accidents is overspeeding, then we have reasons related to drivers and pedastirans not following road safety regulation.
The comparison between the years of 2014 and 2015 shows the impact of instituting a new law and enforcing it. As shown in the introductory dashboard, Law 243, released in April 2015, greatly influenced the traffic situation and decreased the numbers of accidents and casualties to about half the previous values.
We propose four short-term solutions that can be implemented in a close period of time and two long-term solutions which require governmental and organizational cooperation and attention.
Our Short-Term Solutions:
1. Design and launch awareness campaigns for the young people who are 15 years old or more and will be eligible to drive, especially for the 15—29 age bracket. These awareness campaigns must be designed specifically to grab the attention of the young adults and to make them sensitive to the dangers of road crashes.
2. Place reflective signs on highways, dark mountain roads and tunnels. These reflective signs are cost efficient yet effective in guiding the driver in dark places.
3. Make the traffic lights solar powered. Since Lebanon has a limited budged, these traffic lights must be placed by according to priority. For instance, we must first set them on roundabouts and intersections. These places are more prone to traffic and illegal driving and overtaking.
4. Restructure the current penalty system for road violations. These penalties must follow the current economic and foreign exchange rate conditions in order to represent an actual threat to illegal drivers.
Our Long-Term Solutions:
1. Obliging citizens with theoretical studies and technical training related to cars. This is achieved by creating a driving school which ensures that drivers are equipped which adequate driving skills and safety knowledge.
2. Creating and modifying laws to penalize people who violate road safety measures. These laws can start by a point-based driving license, where drivers will lose points every time, they violate the law. After losing all these points, the authority is ought to retract the driving license.
It is imperative that we combat this problem and that we share our findings with relevant stakeholders such as the youth, the ISF and the concerned NGOs in order to encourage this community to stay committed in their effort to rectify the Lebanese traffic issue. Hence, we have decided to email ISF representative General Imad Osman with a link to our dashboard which we will also send back to KunHadi representative Ms. Lina Gebrane who sat with us to validate our ideas.
Finally, we wish to stress on the importance of small actions that we as pedestrians and drivers can take to make our experience on the road less chaotic and stressful, being alert today means being alive tomorrow.