Data from the Gambia police records state that on average, 775 road traffic accidents occur in the Gambia annually over the last ten years.
According to the data, a cumulative total of 7,750 road traffic accidents were officially reported in the country from year 2000 to 2009, the figure excludes unreported cases. Of the officially reported cases, 618 are fatal ones in which many people lost their dear lives.
According to the data, on average, about 68 people have been losing their lives in road accidents annually over the last 10 years. The police records also state that about 168 people sustain serious injuries due to road traffic accidents annually.
According to the police data, majority of the road traffic accidents in The Gambia are due to irresponsible, dangerous and careless driving; exceeding speed limit; inefficient braking system; driving motor vehicles not conform to legal requirement; pedestrian careless crossing of road; and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Momodou Gassama of the World Health Organization country office in The Gambia, and a road traffic accident expert, says 95% of all road traffic crashes are preventable.
“Drinking and driving increases the risk of a crash, which could result to death or serious injury,” Mr. Gassama said.
Wearing a good-quality helmet can reduce the risk of death from a road crash by almost 40%, and the risk of severe injury by over 70%, Mr Gassama said, adding that wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of death among front-seat passengers by 40-65% and can reduce deaths among rear-seat car occupants by 25-75%.
Prompt and good quality pre-hospital care can save many people injured in road traffic crashes, the road traffic accident expert says.
Mr Gassama also said there is need to develop a national road safety strategy and strengthen multi-sectoral action for road safety to avert the high number of accidents in The Gambia.
As a way forward, he noted, there is need for the establishment of a strategic road management system and a multi-sectoral National Road Safety Commission, with dedicated human, material and other resources, as well as strengthened road safety research.
On a global scale, about 1.3 million people die each year, more than 3000 deaths each day, due to road traffic crashes.
The WHO official said road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people, aged between 15 and 29.
“Road traffic injuries are among the three leading causes of death for people between 5 and 44 years of age,” he added, saying over 90% of deaths on the roads occur in low-income and middle-income countries, which have only 48% of the world’s registered vehicles.
Pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of motorised two-wheelers and their passengers, who are collectively known as “vulnerable road users”, account for about 46% of global road traffic deaths.