You are on page 1of 6

Excessive and inappropriate speed is the major cause of road traffic crashes

,
injuries and fatalities in Ethiopia. Based on a review of police reported traffic
road crashes from 2005 to 2011, not observing priority of pedestrians and
speeding were identified as the two leading causes of fatal and non fatal crashes
in the country with a combined contribution of 44.8% and 45.89% respectively
(Getu S. Tulu, Simon Washington,, Mark J. King). Excessive and inappropriate
speed contributes to both the number and severity of crashes. As speed
increases the stopping sight distance increases escalating the chances of
involvement in a crash. The higher the speed during the crash, the higher is the
severity of accidents especially to the vulnerable road users. Cumulative
research revealed that pedestrians has 90% chance of survival when hit by a car
at 30km/hr while they only have less than 20% survival chance when hit by a
car at 50km/hr. This implies that speed is a major contributory factor for the
number and severity of pedestrian crashes occurring due to not observing
priority to pedestrians. However, because the police, the primary crash
investigators, lack proper training and facilities and because their primary focus
is to define a case for prosecution rather than investigate the causes of crashes,
the primary contribution of excessive and inappropriate speed on crashes due to
not observing priority to pedestrians is often not reported. Furthermore, in
Ethiopia pedestrians are the most killed in crashes representing 53.43% of
fatalities followed by passengers who constitute 39.21% of fatalities (Getu S.
Tulu, Simon Washington,, Mark J. King). In Addis Ababa city, about 90% of the
fatalities are pedestrians, where school children represent a high proportion (A.
Persson). The forgoing statistics reveals that excessive and inappropriate speed
should be recognized as a major risk factor for road traffic crashes in the
country.

Excessive speed has a perceived benefit of increased mobility and shorter travel
times while it is a main cause and contributory factor in most road traffic
crashes which result in fatalities, injuries and material damage. On one hand
excessive speed is an indicator of economic efficiency and development; on the
other hand it is a recognized major risk factor in road traffic crashes. The
societal perception of the benefits and risks of excessive speed is contradictory
to individual perceptions. At aggregate level, excessive speed is well recognized
as a major risk factor for road traffic crashes; however, for an individual driver,
the chance of involvement in crashes is very low as he infrequently encounters
crashes when speeding. The notion at individual level gets reinforced every time
drivers complete their journey with excessive speeds and without any crashes.
The dilemma that excessive speed is an indicator of economic efficiency and
development and at the same time a major risk factor for road traffic crashes
and the contradictory perceptions at societal and individual levels creates
challenges for the development of an effective speed management system.
Despite the challenges, some countries have been able to develop effective
speed management policies as central part of their integrated safety policies
such as “ Vision zero” in Sweden and “Sustainable Safety” in Netherlands and
be able to curb the adverse effects of excessive and inappropriate speed
dramatically.
The burden of road traffic injuries and fatalities is huge in Ethiopia. WHO’s
Global status report on road safety 2013 revealed that approximately 1.24
million people die every year on the world’s roads; another 20 to 50 million
sustain nonfatal injuries as a result of road traffic crashes which is the leading
cause of death for young people aged between 15-29 years. A similar WHO’s
status report on road safety for African region 2009 affirmed that Almost 20% (n
= 234 768) of global road traffic deaths occurred in the African Region which has
less than 2% of the world’s registered vehicles and of all the deaths in the Region
70% occurred in the ten countries that account for 70% of the regional population:
Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique,
Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda . The region has some of the highest rates
of road traffic deaths globally at more than 32 deaths per 100 000 population
annually. According to the report, Ethiopia has 35 deaths per 100 000 population
which is among the few highest rates in the world.

In response to such a huge global health burden, earlier in 2004, the World Bank
and the World Health Organization (WHO) jointly launched the World report on
road traffic injury prevention which enclosed a number of key recommendations
for improving road safety around the globe. In 2009, WHO prepared the first
global road safety assessment report which identified the clear gaps and
opportunities, and called the global community for more and immediate action
to improve road safety. In March 2010, the United Nations General Assembly
adopted resolution 64/255 which proclaimed 2011–2020 the Decade of Action
for road safety, with a global goal of stabilizing and then reducing the forecasted
level of global road fatalities by increasing activities conducted at national,
regional and global levels (WHO). According to the resolution, the WHO and the
United Nations regional commissions, in cooperation with the United Nations
Road Safety Collaboration and other stakeholders prepared a plan of action for
the decade to guide and support implementation of its objectives. The action
plan identified five pillars: (i) Road Safety Management which concerns the
institutional framework needed to implement road safety activities, and thereby
sets the oversight of all other pillars; (ii) Safer roads and mobility that deals with
road development, the safety of all road users, especially pedestrians and other
vulnerable users; (iii) Safer vehicles which focuses on standards, entry and exit
of vehicles into and from countries; (iv) Safer drivers and other road users that
addresses driver training, testing and licensing, driving permits and enforcement
of the driving code, awareness and education of the public, and the
development of a safety culture, and (v) Post-crash response which deals with
on site care, transport and trauma care of injured. Under these five pillars, the
African road safety action plan for 2011 to 2020 has been organized which was
launched during the second African Road Safety Conference, November 2011,
Addis Ababa. The objective of the African road safety action plan is to reduce
road traffic crashes by 50% by the year 2020.

To achieve this objective, the World report on road traffic injury prevention and
the global status reports on road safety all advocate a systems approach for
road safety which recognizes that the human body is highly vulnerable to road
injury and humans made mistake. A safe road system is therefore one that
accommodates and compensates for human vulnerability and fallibility (Figure 1)
(WHO, 2009).

Figure 1: The systems approach to road safety (WHO, 2009)

As depicted in the above figure, “safe speeds” is at the heart of the safe system.
This adaptation of good practice speed management program, the first of its
kind in the Africa region, will therefore be a useful guide in streamlining efforts
towards the effective management of speed, and thereby enabling considerable
reduction of the road traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities which will significantly
contribute for the achievement of the objective for the decade of action for road
safety in Ethiopia; i.e. reducing road traffic crashes by 50% by the year 2020. It
will influence policy and practices of road traffic safety councils and committees,
road authorities, transport authorities and bureaus, road traffic safety councils,
traffic police, ministry of health, ministry of education, other non-governmental
organizations etc and fosters coordination among the actors. It can also be used
as a model for similar adaptation in other low and middle income countries

In this research the current situation in Ethiopia in relation to excessive and
inappropriate speed will be assessed followed by a review of good speed
management practices and bad practices and trends that aggravate excessive
and inappropriate speed from around the globe. Then a sustainable good
practice speed management programme will be contextually adapted based on
the current situation and drawing on good practices, bad practices and trends
from around the globe along with appropriate speed management evaluation
and monitoring framework.
Road safety

Introduction

Excessive and inappropriate speed is the major cause of road traffic crashes,
injuries and fatalities in Ethiopia. Based on a review of police reported traffic
road crashes from 2005 to 2011, not observing priority of pedestrians and
speeding were identified as the two leading causes of fatal and non-fatal
crashes in the country with a combined contribution of 44.8% and 45.89%
respectively (Getu S. Tulu, Simon Washington,, Mark J. King).

The burden of road traffic injuries and fatalities is huge in Ethiopia. WHO’s Global status report
on road safety 2013 revealed that approximately 1.24 million people die every year on the
world’s roads; another 20 to 50 million sustain nonfatal injuries as a result of road traffic crashes
which is the leading cause of death for young people aged between 15-29 years. A similar
WHO’s status report on road safety for African region 2009 affirmed that almost 20% (n = 234
768) of global road traffic deaths occurred in the African Region which has less than 2% of the
world’s registered vehicles and of all the deaths in the Region 70% occurred in the ten countries
that account for 70% of the regional population: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar,
Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda. The region has some of the highest
rates of road traffic deaths globally at more than 32 deaths per 100 000 population annually.
According to the report, Ethiopia has 35 deaths per 100 000 population which is among the few
highest rates in the world.

Road safety Philosophy

Road safety philosophies generally express a long-term vision of an ideal road traffic system
where accidents and serious personal injury are virtually eliminated. Road "accidents" are not
considered accidental events that are the inevitable consequence of our demand for mobility;
they are seen as events that can be prevented. The main elements of road safety philosophies
reflect generally well known safety principles. People are fallible and make errors. Furthermore,
people are physically vulnerable and can only withstand a limited amount of external forces.
Therefore, road safety measures based on these philosophies and principles take account of
these limitations and aim to develop a road system that:

 Minimizes the chances of human error.

 Is forgiving of errors when they do occur.

 Prevents conflicts among road users with large differences in speed, mass and direction.
A road safety strategy that is based on these types of road safety principles almost
automatically identifies speed as a major element of the safety problem, and speed
management as a major area of interest.

The recent WHO world report on traffic injury prevention (WHO, 2004) sets out a number of
guiding principles for road safety work which are based upon this line of thinking. It says, among
other things, that:

"Road crash injury is largely preventable and predictable; it is a human-made problem
amenable to rational analysis. Common driving errors and common pedestrian behaviour
should not lead to death and serious injury – the traffic system should help users to cope with
increasing demanding conditions. The vulnerability of the human body should be the limiting
design parameter for the traffic system and speed management is central."

Safe system

The aim of a safe system is to achieve a road system that allows for human error without
leading to death or serious injury. It recognizes the limits of force that the human body can
survive and focuses on systematically addressing various factors involved in specific crash
types to reduce the risk of injury. Crashes are always likely to happen, even though there is a
continuing focus on prevention. The Safe system approach aims to minimize the severity of
injury when a crash occurs and is based on the premise that road users should not die because
of system failings. One important cornerstone in the Safe-system context is that the care of
human life and health is considered to be more important than anything else.

A road traffic system that is safe and sustainable will have the following features:

 its infrastructure will have been adapted to take into account human limitations, using
proper road design;

 its vehicles will be equipped to make the task of driving easier and to provide a high
standard of protection in crashes;

 Its road users will be provided with adequate information and education and, where
appropriate, will be deterred from undesirable or dangerous behavior.

Strategic principles

There are three guiding principles in the strategy for a safe and sustainable road system. These
are as follows:

 The road network should be reclassified according to road function, with a single and
unambiguous function established for as many roads as possible. The three types of
road function are:

 the flow function – enabling high speeds for long-distance traffic, frequently also
involving large volumes of traffic;
 the distributor function – helping to distribute traffic to scattered destinations and serving
regions and districts;

 the access function – enabling direct access to properties alongside a road.

 Speed limits should be set according to road function.

 Using appropriate design, the function of roads, their layout and their use should be
made compatible, by:

 preventing the unintended use of roads;

 preventing large discrepancies in speed, direction and volume at moderate and high
speeds;

 Preventing confusion among road users by making the nature of roads more predictable.

Necessary actions

The actions needed to achieve the safe and sustainable road systems include:

 the creation of partnerships at national, regional and local levels to re-engineer the road
network, with a greater emphasis on safety;

 a programme to be implemented in two phases, with a start-up period of two years, to
reclassify the road network;

 A 30 km/h speed limit introduced as a general rule for all built-up areas, with powers
given to local authorities to make exceptions.

Road traffic deaths and serious injuries are to a great extent preventable, since the risk of
incurring injury in a crash is largely predictable and many countermeasures, proven to be
effective, exist. Road traffic injury needs to be considered alongside heart disease, cancer and
stroke as a preventable public health problem that responds well to targeted interventions.

Table 2-4 shows the severity of traffic accidents over the last five years. Of the total traffic
accidents occurring yearly, more that 11% are fatal accidents. Over 20 % of the total traffic
accident injuries are fatalities. The high percentage of fatalities indicates the critical lack of pre-
hospital and emergency medical services.