Road accidents in Sri Lanka are a daily occurrence, with numerous cases being highlighted in the news. In large cities such as Colombo and Kandy, accidents are far more common due to the large numbers of varied transportation options (three wheelers, trucks, automobiles, buses etc) and due to more narrower, sometimes overcrowded roads.
The Ministry of Transport estimated the total vehicle population to be at 5million (see above) as of 2013. The most recent case of an accident highlighted in the news (at the time of writing) involves two buses colliding on the Southern expressway.
In the HNB Assurance call centre alone, this year we have been at our busiest on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, with an average of 60 motor claims per day, an increase from 2013 where the corresponding number was 50. Furthermore, our data reveals that in the last two years an overwhelming majority of these claims (98%) are road accidents, with theft of parts and flooding a distant second.
Attempts have been made to identify the causes of these accidents. Dr. Godakumbura singles out young drivers suggesting that they are more likely to drive faster, use their mobile phones when driving, more likely to drive late at night and are more likely to feel the effects of alcohol than older drivers. He adds that motorcyclists and three wheel drivers are highly involved in road accidents. This view is supported by Dissanayake and the Ministry of Transport. Dissanayake reveals that a large number of motorcyclists travel without using a helmet, which is a leading cause of injury. Fazlulhaq reports that upto 60% of grievous injuries and fatal accidents are caused by a combination of high speed and driver fatigue.
The economic impact of road accidents has been documented by Nithershini, P et al (2012) who report that families suffer heavily as their primary breadwinner (often a male) is badly injured or even killed due to road accidents, and just 14% of these families possess life insurance in order to protect themselves from such tragedies. Wijesiri (2012) reported that road accidents cost Sri Lanka over Rs 9.3billion annually.
Which brings us to you, dear reader. Are you at risk? Take a moment to consider about how you drive; do you exceed the speeding limit? Do you race other cars on the roads and overtake dangerously? Chances are some of you who are reading this article have had first or second hand experience with an automobile accident. We kindly request you, whether motorist or pedestrian, to follow these tips the next time you travel:
- Don’t drive if you are tired. Rest or have someone else drive you.
- Be mindful of your surroundings, all it takes is for someone to make one small mistake which can have a large impact on your life.
- Drive slower. Its better to get there late than not get there at all. If you must be somewhere on time, leave earlier to beat the traffic.
- Do not use your phones while you drive/cross, your attention must on the road at all times.
- Wear your seatbelt. Not only is it the law, but it could save your life in case the unexpected happens.
- Don’t drink and drive. Ever. If you take the wheel under the influence of alcohol you are taking your life, and the life of others into your own, unsteady hands.
- If you haven’t already, look into motor insurance and life insurance to safeguard you and your family against the unexpected.
Do you have any more tips on road safety? Tell us in the comments and subscribe for more road safety tips.
Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.
14 persons injured in Southern Expressway accident, The Nation, 31 August 2014. [Accessed 2nd September 2014].
Dr. Godakumbura, VW, 2013, Accidents are Preventable: Road Accidents, part 1, The Island, 26 June. [Accessed 29th August 2014].
Dissanayake, C, 2014, Road accidents in top gear, The Sunday Times, 27 April. [Accessed 1st September 2014].
Fazlulhaq, N, 2013, Road accidents still No.1 killer with 500 fatalities in 2013, The Sunday Times, 5 May. [Accessed 31st September 2014].
Nithershini, P, Dharmaratne, SD, Nugegoda, DB, Ostbye, T & Lynch, CA, 2012, The economic impact of road traffic injuries on households in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Injury Prevention, vol. 18, no. 1. pp. 33. Available from: Injuryprevention website. [Accessed 30th August 2014].
The Ministry of Transport Sri Lanka, Statistics, Department of Motor Traffic: Vehicle Population.
The Ministry of Transport Sri Lanka, Statistics, National Council for Road Safety: Vehicle Accidents.
Wijesiri, L 2012, The Swedish approach: Adopting a zero target for road accidents, The Sunday Observer, 20 May. [Accessed 2nd September 2014].