Friday, August 18, 2017

Cartoon campaign aims for safer roads

Urgent measures are required to prevent more death and injury on the roads, the government has warned at the launch of an innovative campaign to improve education about road safety. Minister for Rail Transportation U Than Htay said last week that there had been a “significant” increase in road deaths and injuries over the past decade.

“Due to increased vehicle ownership following economic reforms, this trend will continue unless it is addressed as a matter of urgency,” he warned.

In 2014, a total of 14,781 accidents had killed 4163 people and left 25,014 injured, up from 9762 accidents resulting in 2811 deaths and 17,379 injured, official figures show.

Traffic Police chief Colonel Kyaw Htwe said half of all accidents involved motorcycles, and most incidents involved driver error or driving under the influence of alcohol. Yangon, whose roads are jammed with 400,000 of the country’s 600,000 cars, is also the scene of most accidents, he added.

Dr Thit Lwin, professor emeritus at the Yangon University of Medicine, told participants that Myanmar’s road accident rate was the highest in Southeast Asia, according to World Health Organisation figures. The professor said road accidents were the leading cause of disability and the second-highest cause of accidental death in Myanmar.

The campaign launch, Making Myanmar’s Roads Safer: Changing Behaviour through Cartoons, was held in Nay Pyi Taw on February 25, and was attended by government officials, road safety experts, civil society organisations and private sector representatives in a campaign to improve road safety education.

Under the campaign, which is sponsored by brewing giant Heineken, a committee will choose the best road safety cartoon to print on vinyl posters to be distributed around the country.

“This campaign combines cartoons to get the message out in an entertaining and participatory way,” said well-known cartoonist Aw Pi Kyeh, who will help choose the winner.

Private sector support for road safety has been welcomed by the ministry, which says lack of funding for preventative activities – from improved driver training to installation of better road signage – is one of the major challenges toward reducing the road toll.