Thukten Zangpo 

Royal Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) officials observed the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims yesterday in Thimphu.

This year’s theme is “Act for Low Speeds”, as it has the potential to prevent many deaths and serious injuries, in particular those of pedestrians and all other vulnerable road users like children, the elderly, and the disabled.

“Speed is a significant road safety issue. Vehicle speed plays a part in every crash,” the RSTA press release stated.

Gracing the event, the Minister of the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), Karma Donnen Wangdi, said that road fatalities and injuries cause violent and traumatic events that have long-lasting impacts.

He said that 90 percent of road accidents occur in low and middle-income countries and the grief and distress due to the road accidents could and should have been prevented.

Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi said that the day is intended to respond to the need of those close to road victims for public recognition of their loss and suffering and also to pay tribute to the dedicated emergency crews, police, and medical professionals, who deal daily with the traumatic aftermath of road accidents.

“The day has also become an important tool for governments and those who work to prevent crashes or respond to the aftermath, since it offers the opportunity to demonstrate the enormous scale and impact of road deaths and injuries, and the urgent need for action,” he said.

RSTA’s planning officer, Leki Choda, said that observing the day reminds us to work harder and understand the social and economic cost of road crashes for the country.

He said that the authority conducts onboard inspections in passenger buses to enhance safety and monitor public safety transport.

Leki Choda also said that drug testing for transport drivers is carried out to ensure drug-free public transport drivers in the country, and highway inspections across the country improve the efficiency of the service delivery.

Awareness audiovisual materials on vehicle ownership transfer and road markings or traffic signs and RSTA regulations 2021 were also launched. The day also saw  lighting of butter lamps for the road traffic victims and highway inspection by RSTA officials.

According to World Health Organization, the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims was started by Road Peace in 1993. Since then, it is observed on the third Sunday of November every year.

Meanwhile, RSTA’s annual report 2020-21 stated that road fatalities have decreased to 73 in fiscal year(FY) 2020-21 compared to 124 in 2018-2019. Similarly, the injuries caused by vehicle accidents have decreased to 344 in FY 2020-21 from 829 in FY 2018-2019.

Edited by Tashi Dema