Driving cars can be a hazardous affair. Traffic congestion can make the mildest person tear out their hair, or at least abandon them altogether for public transportation. And in cities where public transportation is sketchy, some people may choose to bike instead. In Iran, where few people are suicidal enough to ride bicycles on the roads, the country competes with Saudi Arabia for the highest rate of traffic accident fatalities in the world. This is the statistical news that has attracted increased citizen, government, and media attention. While the car ownership rate in Iran is less than western countries, the number of victims is consideraby higher. Four months ago, Dr. Hassan Emami Razavi, Iran’s Deputy Minister of Health, said that the traffic accident fatality of Iran is 5 times more than the world average.
At present, the fatality rate is about 20,000 people annually. In 2002, 44 deaths occurred for every 100,000 people. The same factor in the same year for Germany and Canada were 9 and 6 respectively. In 2008, it was 12.25 for the United States. Last year, during a period of focus on traffic accidents, the media announced that the car accident fatality rate in Iran is 25 times more than Japan and 2 times more than Turkey, which has similar cultural conditions to Iran.
Researchers and the media have offered a list of potential explanations. Some accidents are attributed to human error when driving or social and cultural aspects such as disobeying driving regulations. For example, how people use seat belts is a serious concern. In the past few years, using seat belts has been attended by most of the people, however using seat belts is compulsory for the front seats but not for the back seats. That is why in June 2010, Alireza Zamani, a Parliament member, asked for making the back seat belt use compulsory to reduce fatalities.
Blame it on the youth
Some researchers claim that Iran’s relatively young population is more likely to create accidents, but this is only valid if regulations are not obeyed. Many fatalities occur because of deficiency of safety facilities in the car. Producing cars with seat belts has been obligatory for Iranian car producers since 1999. However, most of the cars that were produced before that date do not have seat belts, and just 7 out of 37 types of cars which are produced in Iran have air bags and ABS brakes.
Additionally, Iran’s road network is very old. Many accidents, which usually have a lot of fatalities, happen on old roads that were built decades ago with low road engineering standards. These kinds of roads are usually located far from major metropolitan areas, or in provincial centers.
Nevertheless, the statistics show that the fatality rate is dropping. In 2002 about 30,000 people died in the accidents, but the most recent statistics suggested that the annual rate of fatalities has been reduced by 10,000. Although statistically some improvements can be seen, we still have a long way to go to solve this multi-variable problem. As car users and drivers, the first step we is to keep in mind some basic safety hints.
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