MANILA, Philippines – More than half of those who die in road accidents in the Philippines are motorcycle riders, according to a new road safety report of the World Health Organization (WHO).
In its Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, the WHO said 53% of reported road traffic fatalities in the Philippines are riders of motorized two- or three-wheeler vehicles.
Pedestrians make up the second biggest chunk of road user deaths at 19%, followed by drivers of four-wheeled vehicles at 14% and their passengers at 11%.
Based on 2013 data from the Philippines' Department of Public Works and Highway-Traffic Accident Recording and Analysis System, 1,513 people have died due to road accidents.
The WHO, however, has put the Philippine estimate much higher at 10,379 fatalities.
In its report, the WHO said the number of road traffic deaths globally has remained constant at 1.25 million people. Motoryclists are among the most vulnerable, comprising 23% of road traffic deaths.
The Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions record the highest proportion in this area, with a third of all road traffic deaths involving motorycle riders.
While the WHO noted progress in arresting the rate of road accident fatalities – suggesting that efforts to boost road safety have saved lives – the agency stressed the need for better law enforcement and providing safe roads for all.
Many countries now have laws against drunk-driving and mandating the use of helmets and seat belts, but these laws are not always comprehensive or properly enforced.
Creating safer roads for motoryclists and pedestrians is also crucial, the WHO said.
"Real, sustained successes at reducing global road traffic deaths will only happen when road design takes into consideration the needs of all road users," the agency added.
Assessing road safety measures
While the Philippines has laws regulating speed limit, mandating the use of motorycle helmets and seatbelts, and prohibiting drunk driving, these laws have not been sufficiently implemented.
The Philippines got a 5 out of 10 rating in the implementation of the speed limit law and seatbelt law, according to the WHO report.
It got a 6 out of 10 rating in the implementation of the motorcycle helmet law, but the WHO noted that the law does not require the helmet to be fastened correctly.
This poses a risk to motoryclists, who are vulnerable to sustaining head and neck injuries because of their lack of physical protection while weaving in and out of traffic with fast-moving cars and buses.
Aside from being the main cause of death or severe disability to motorcyclists, the WHO also said that the social costs of these injuries for survivors are high because of the need to have specialized or long-term care.
In July, a new law was signed banning small children from riding motorycles unless they can comfortably reach the foot peg, wrap their arms around the driver, and wear a protective helmet.
In the enforcement of the drunk driving law, the Philippines got a dismal 1 out of 10 rating. Republic Act 10586, or the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2013, seeks to penalize drivers whose blood alcohol content exceeds the allowable legal limit.
Drivers found guilty of violating the law face fines, imprisonment, and a revocation of their licenses.
In March, the Land Transportation Office procured breath analyzers to conduct spot checks on motorists suspected to be driving under the influence of alcohol.
The WHO report also showed that the Philippines still lacks laws mandating restraints for children passengers and banning the use of mobile phones while driving. – Rappler.com
Infographic by Raffy De Guzman