A recent survey focusing on the increase in road accidents in Laos found that more than three-quarters of motorists in the capital Vientiane habitually exceed the speed limits and that about one-third of those driving at night drink alcohol to their heart’s content drunk.
The country’s Ministry of Transport led the investigations, with technical and financial support from the World Bank. Researchers also documented stories of road accident survivors.
Research has shown that more than a thousand people die on Laos’ roads every year, and many more injuries and traumas occur as a result of accidents, increasing the total number of accidents per year by 35% between 2010 and 2020, while fatalities increased by 67%. Surveys also show that many motorcyclists do not wear helmets and that many drivers take risks.
Of the intersections in the capital selected for the survey, 73% of drivers were speeding. According to the survey, younger drivers were the most likely to drive over the speed limit and one in three drivers consumed alcohol, with the majority exceeding the legal limit.
The number of accidents and fatalities is expected to increase and the government is currently working on its Road Safety Action Plan, which is currently under review.
Dr Alex Kremer, the World Bank’s country manager for Laos, says: “Road safety is a major public health problem, as are dengue fever and malaria.”
“Hard data on driving behaviour and accidents confirm the devastating personal experiences of thousands of individuals, and it is clear that it takes leadership, dedication, time and consistent work to make the roads safe.”
The Traffic Police said that despite numerous provinces being shut down due to Covid-19 restrictions, the number of road accidents and deaths has continued to rise in recent months.
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