Tomorrow (19) marks the World Day of Remembrance for Road Accident Victims, prompting a sobering reflection on Sri Lanka’s road safety challenges.
Globally, 1.35 million lives are lost each year due to road accidents, with Sri Lanka witnessing approximately 8 daily fatalities on its relatively small road network. Despite a population of nearly 20 million, the country records 38,000 annual road accidents, resulting in 3,000 deaths, 8,000 severe injuries, and disproportionately affecting pedestrians, three-wheeler, and motorcycle users.
Disturbingly, around 15% of those killed are children under 19 years old.
The urgency to address road safety is emphasized by the economic impact, with road accidents costing Sri Lanka an estimated 3-5% of its GDP, translating to losses of approximately Rs. 855 billion annually.
Scholars and organizations, including the Sri Lanka Medical Association, have long advocated for a presidential task force to address this crisis. Despite promises from Chief of Staff and Senior Security Adviser Sagala Ratnayake, tangible action remains awaited.
The day serves as a call for collective responsibility, urging citizens to consider their driving habits, prioritize safety, and contribute to creating a disciplined, road-safe society. The high number of accidents involving school children, often transported in unsafe vehicles, underlines the need for stringent safety regulations and responsible parenting.