Argentinas outrageous Road Toll

perry

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ARGENTINA: Regional Leader in Traffic Deaths
By Marcela Valente

BUENOS AIRES, Jul 27 (IPS) - Traffic accidents in Argentina have been claiming an average of 20 lives a day over the past decade, making it the top country in Latin America for these tragedies. They are also the main cause of death among people under 35, but in spite of this there are no official plans to end the slaughter on the roads.

"The worst thing is that in spite of the statistics, there is no state policy to tackle the problem, and so we have no national executive authority in charge of road safety, nor a programme, nor a budget for it," Eduardo Bertotti, the director of the private Institute of Road Safety and Education (ISEV), told IPS.

"The political powers-that-be are not concerned about it, and we think this is a serious cultural problem within the state and among our citizens," the expert said. Countries like Chile, Colombia and Costa Rica at least have government institutions to fight it, he said.

News reports of traffic accidents have become so familiar in Argentina that instead of causing concern they have become the norm. Every day there are reports of buses that have turned over, multiple crashes on highways, pedestrians and cyclists knocked down, and car drivers or motorcyclists being killed or injured because they were not wearing safety belts or helmets.

Argentina has a national traffic law but it is more honoured in the breach than the observance, and there is no effective system of penalties for offenders. "The main cause of accidental death in this country is speeding," said Alberto Silveira of the non-governmental organisation Luchemos por la Vida (Let’s Fight for Life).

A study by the organisation concluded that two million of the seven million vehicles in the country ran a red light at least once a day in 2002. Nowadays that figure is twice as high, with the addition of 400,000 bus drivers (with passengers) a day ignoring red lights.

María Cristina Isoba, an expert with Luchemos por la Vida, said that the lack of infrastructure on roads and highways, the absence of traffic safety policies, and risk-taking behaviour contribute to the vast majority of accidents, independently of the number of vehicles on the streets.

Monitoring done by the organisation indicates that the number of people killed in road accidents has remained at a fairly constant level over the past 10 years. In 1997 there were 8,123 fatalities; the next year the death toll was 7,579 and this continued virtually unchanged until 2006, when 7,557 people were killed, of whom 1,200 were under 15.

A spate of serious accidents has prompted the government of Néstor Kirchner to declare 2007 "Road Safety Year" and oblige all public administration documents to carry the slogan as a letterhead. But they are only words, and another increase in the number of deaths on the road is expected by the end of this year.

"Paradoxically, this year will be one of the worst in terms of (road accident) results," Bertotti said.

The national ombudsman’s office, which has worked with associations concerned with road safety and accidents, launched an initiative in 2006 calling on the state to declare a road safety emergency, create a national authority in charge of the issue, and implement an accident prevention plan.

Nearly half a million people supported the proposal, but no programme has yet been established.

ISEV said that mortality is already up by nearly seven percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, and serious injuries are up by nearly 40 percent. Some 120,000 people are injured in accidents every year.

Research carried out by Bertotti found that Argentina has the highest mortality rate from traffic accidents in Latin America, followed by Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay. Meanwhile, Luchemos por la Vida reported that Argentina also has the highest number of road deaths per million vehicles.

The statistics are from 2001 but they indicate that, for every million cars, 129 people died in Sweden from traffic accidents, 181 in the Netherlands, 196 in the United States, 211 in Spain and 1,058 in Argentina. "Some people think that there are more accidents because there are more cars, but that is not the case: other factors are responsible," said Isoba.

The expert pointed out that in Argentina, most of the people killed on the road are pedestrians who cross streets outside the crossing lane, do not wait for the lights, or wait on the street instead of on the sidewalk.

Many accidents also occur when pedestrians walk along streets or highways.

Traffic accidents are the main cause of death among young people, and the third cause of death throughout the population, after heart disease and cancer. The road will continue to claim victims at a voracious rate until preventive measures are taken.


Pericles says

The only thing I pray for is that the Porteños become as paranoid about their outrageous road toll as the swine Flu which is completely preventable and is a national disgrace causing more than 7000 deaths per annum in a population of 44 million. Most accidents are due to speeding , reckless driving in many cases due to alchohol and especially drugs these days.

The government must spend the equal amount of monies as it is on swine flu to make our roads safer . They could employ 1000s of traffic police to enforce rules and have mandatory alchohol and drug checks on most major roads in the mornings in particular. The budget spent on this will be monies well spent as revenue from fines as well as well as less monies being spent on all the thousands of road victims per annum always will be less than the budget allocated.

I am appalled by the lack of concern for this problem as it shows complete ignorance to a problem that is equivalent to a war zone figure.
I will happily vote the first politician who just employs some strict road rules and has them enforced!!
 

jp

Registered
I don't understand how they can tolerate road death and youth crime as "just something that happens". Every fatal crash gets reported in the press, and the nation bemoans "insecurity". But locking up under 18s and enforcing stricter road rules seems to be more than people can bear.

Ho hum.
 

EvergreenGal

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Yes, having a law and "enforcing" it is the key! But is that even possible? They tried to enforce the helmet law and that only lasted as long as there were officers out pulling people over...they are back to wearing them on their elbows again! Plus, the majority of drivers don't know how to drive to begin with! A law that requires you to take a class in driving...learn and know the rules of the road and us them!!! Drive defensively NOT offensively!!


I saw a motorcycle accident near our home...if it hadn't been for a few people going into the middle of the intersection and a gas station attendent bringing over orange cones the poor guy would have been run over! Cars went around him, barely missing him and horns honking because they were angry they had to slow down or stop while the traffic moved around him!! I was disgusted with the lack of care or concern for another human life...people are "numb" to car accidents and even the lives they take...so very sad!
 

perry

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I find the attitude of Argentine drivers to pedestrians very sad and if I could ticket them myselves on my daily walks I would. I have had drivers speed up to me from a distance when crossing at a pedestrian crossing and cowards that they are when I shout them down they never fight back .

Yes Education from a young age is the key and also a strict license system based on points is needed .
 

criswkh

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Pericles don't you know we drivers get 10 points if we hit a pedestrian. Seriously, I think if the government started to enforce the driving laws than Argentina would have more pesos reserve and maybe they won't have to seize pensions :)
 

steveinbsas

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Wow, Pericles, did you just delete Blah Blah's post "Try crossing with a red light when a policeman is present?"

If you did, thanks, but I would like to know what he/she meant.

It is possible to j-walk in front of a policeman and they won't say or do anything...

The biggest problem is crossing the street in the (crosswalk) with a green light and the cars still act like they have the right of way.
 

desertrose

Registered
Also drunk driving seems to be very much the norm. There are controls but all I ever hear is how to drive around them. Seat belt? Para qué, me incomoda! Red lights? A esa hora no pasa nada! No respect for the law, pedestrians, or one's own safety - I find that very sad.
 

Grazie

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Thank you for starting this thread pericles. As someone who commutes daily using both the Gen. Paz and Panamericana, it is scary out there. I passed by the 10 car pile-up 2 days ago, there were luxury cars involved and 3 were on top of the freeway divide - how crazy is that! The speeds these cars are doing are hair raising! The last time I saw this many scary driving was playing the AutoTheft video game. And the scariest of them all are the clunkers without lights (stop, brake and signal) doing 50km in a 110km lane.
I even see people on their cellphone, I thought that was illegal. And one time I saw someone passing mate (the drink) around in car as he was changing lanes. I mean talk about multi-tasking.
And the helmets on the elbows are back in fashion again.
Would you believe in Panamericana there are jaywalkers also? They run across the freeway, really scary!
But one thing I can praise the people who take care of the freeway is that when there is an accident they respond so fast. They just cannot enforce the law to those who are breaking the rules of the road. Drunk driving sometimes have check points - it is a good start.
Oh and I see people throwing trash (coke cans, candy wrappers, cigarette butts) out their car windows. Imagine that.
Pericles, you are right - it is education that is important but sometimes a simple parent's good example to the children can break the cycle. Thank you again for bringing this up.
 

djlinse37

Registered
I agree with everything that has been said about the drivers above.

I have noticed one very odd thing though, and I wonder if anyone else has. As much as pedestrians are targets when cars are moving/turning, did you ever notice how much driver's respect the crosswalk when they are stopped at a red light? In 10 months of walking, I can probably count the number of times that I've seen a car in the stopped middle of the crosswalk on one hand. But it would take several hands at least to count the number of times that I've seen drivers (even taxi drivers) stop at a light, realize they are in the crosswalk and *BACK* *UP* to clear the crosswalk. I'm sure it happens more in the busier areas, particular during the busiest times, but I've walked across Santa Fe, 9 de Julio, Pelligrini turning on to Libertador during very busy times, and they always seems clear.

Of course, once the light on the cross street turns yellow, they're revving their engines to take off at the first sign of yellow on their own light. But until then, they are clear to cross.

In many places in the US (except probably California), crosswalk paint is nearly a waste of money. Everyone creeps out into the crosswalk, particularly right-turn-on-red (which I know isn't allowed here, but that doesn't explain it).

Any theories?
 

BlahBlah

Registered
Grazie said:
Thank you for starting this thread pericles. As someone who commutes daily using both the Gen. Paz and Panamericana, it is scary out there. I passed by the 10 car pile-up 2 days ago, there were luxury cars involved and 3 were on top of the freeway divide - how crazy is that! The speeds these cars are doing are hair raising! The last time I saw this many scary driving was playing the AutoTheft video game. And the scariest of them all are the clunkers without lights (stop, brake and signal) doing 50km in a 110km lane.
I even see people on their cellphone, I thought that was illegal. And one time I saw someone passing mate (the drink) around in car as he was changing lanes. I mean talk about multi-tasking.
And the helmets on the elbows are back in fashion again.
Would you believe in Panamericana there are jaywalkers also? They run across the freeway, really scary!
But one thing I can praise the people who take care of the freeway is that when there is an accident they respond so fast. They just cannot enforce the law to those who are breaking the rules of the road. Drunk driving sometimes have check points - it is a good start.
Oh and I see people throwing trash (coke cans, candy wrappers, cigarette butts) out their car windows. Imagine that.
Pericles, you are right - it is education that is important but sometimes a simple parent's good example to the children can break the cycle. Thank you again for bringing this up.
If they gave me a buck for everytime I saw an American drive and talk on the phone I would have gotten a free holiday

It sure happens a lot in the States as well

Also try to cross a street on a red light with a cop present, they will never say anything
 
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