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Tag Archives: road crashes
On emergency vehicles, speeds and road widths
I recall an online discussion about how roads need to be wide to accommodate emergency vehicles such as fire trucks/engines, ambulances and police vehicles. There are also videos shared on social media about how, with wide roads, motorists could move their vehicles to the sides to give way to emergency vehicles. These are used to support the argument that we need wide roads and that speeding for emergency vehicles is justified because of their purpose. The following article attempts to make a counter-argument:
Lewis, M. (November 21, 2022) “Ambulances vs. Pedestrians,” Planetizen, https://www.planetizen.com/blogs/119785-ambulances-vs-pedestrians [Last accessed: 11/24/2022]
To quote from the article:
“the “emergency response” argument in favor of wide streets only makes sense if the risk of death from a too-slow ambulance outweighs the risk of death from a speeding car.”
Certainly, the data on road crashes due to speeding should support the perception that there’s a higher risk of death from speeding vehicles compared to the risk of dying in relation to the emergency that’s supposedly being responded to. And in our country, perhaps this counter-argument is valid considering the “wang-wang” type of emergency vehicles moving about.
Back to the old normal in road safety?
Last week, I almost witnessed a multiple vehicle crash along Katipunan Avenue. Almost because we reached the location minutes after the incident happened and before the traffic build-up. Here are photos as we passed the area. You can see from the photos that there were already a lot of onlookers (i.e., miron and usyoso), most of whom were motorcycle riders taking photos of the vehicles involved. No one seemed to be helping those involved aside from the MMDA personnel who appeared to have just arrived as we passed the area.
Miron and usyoso in the area near where a large truck plowed to the roadside near a residential area
Some of the vehicles involved in the crash were this black SUV and the red car
There were scattered debris from the vehicles involved.
This truck and SUV collided probably as the truck attempted to avoid one of the vehicles
Traffic jam quickly formed along the southbound side of the Katipunan-Aurora flyover
Traffic along the southbound side of Katipunan is usually heavy that time of day (around 8:00 AM). But there are sections including the flyover where vehicles typically speed up. Still, the likelihood of crashes is perceived to be low given the conditions unless a vehicle such as the truck in the first photo had some trouble with the driver losing control of the vehicle. It takes just one wayward maneuver or movement to initiate a chain reaction among other vehicles that would lead to a multiple vehicle crash.
Traffic has steadily returned to pre-pandemic levels and it seems that road crashes are also back and on the rise. Hopefully, the authorities such as the MMDA and the PNP will be monitoring traffic closely and address the issues contributing to road crash incidence such as reckless driving and defects in road facilities. I believe the data is available but are these being analyzed and evaluated in order to come up with the most suitable or appropriate solutions or countermeasures? Are there timely interventions to improve road safety along our roads?
On gender and transportation safety
There was a nice discussion among colleagues about which among male or female drivers were the safer motorists. My take based mainly on observations is that female drivers were safer or practiced safe driving and riding more than males. Road crash data should be able to validate (and perhaps support) this observation. My colleagues were also in agreement with this view. Here is an article providing some statistics from the US that clearly show female to be safer drivers and riders:
Egan, L. (August 17, 2022) “Road To Zero Fatalities: Male vs. female drivers,” KSLTV.com, https://ksltv.com/503038/road-to-zero-fatalities-male-versus-female-drivers/ [Last accessed: 9/2/2022]
Some quotables from the article/report:
“The girls are more teachable, they want to learn how to be a good driver,” he explained. “The boys really do think they already know how.”
In 2020, males accounted for 72% of all motor vehicle crash deaths and 92% of motorcyclist deaths, according to the institute’s analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In Utah, crash data from 2017 to 2021 showed that 85% of motorcycle crashes involved males, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.
“Males are more prone to make riskier decisions and tend to be a little more thrill seeking,”
Again, we need to get the data and present these in a meaningful way. You can take the cue from the article above how data can easily be presented to provide insights to driver and rider behavior. More information or details (e.g., age, years of experience in driving/riding, etc.) can lead to even deeper analysis that will allow us to draw or formulate suitable measures to improve safety for everyone.
Road safety history – first fatality and crash
Have you ever wondered when the first road crash involving a motor vehicle occurred? Or who was the first person to die (i.e., fatality) in a car crash? Here’s a brief but informative article on this topic:
Sal (April 15, 2022) “Who Was the First Person Ever to Die in a Car Crash?” Medium.com, https://sal.medium.com/who-was-the-first-person-ever-to-die-in-a-car-crash-8385add6cbcb [Last accessed: 4/20/2022]
Were you surprised about the 3 mph speed of the car that ran over the first fatality involving a car? That’s really slow considering the speeds of vehicles these days and how high speed limits are along streets where there are many pedestrians. Meanwhile, the circumstances about the first crash appears to be similar to what we still have now. That is, reckless driving, increasing speed limits and (truth be told) pedestrians not being aware of their surroundings (say what you will but the car was traveling at 4 mph and there was a claim that the driver tried to get the attention of the victim to no avail). I agree though with the author that this was a portent of worse things to come as road crashes has become a top killer and health concern.
More frequent road crashes?
My personal observations during my commutes lead to a conclusion that there is indeed an increase in the number of road crashes and perhaps this is attributable to the conditions during this pandemic. During my almost daily trips the past weeks, I have witnessed or passed by road crash incidents. These mostly involved motorcycles but last Friday, there was severe congestion along Ortigas Avenue due to a large truck that slammed into a post and ended up blocking most of the westbound lanes of the road. Yesterday, my wife sent me photos of a truck on its side after also being involved in a crash where it was reported that the driver lost control of the vehicle. Also involved, based on the Taytay report posted on their social media page, was a tricycle whose passengers sustained minor injuries. The incident could easily have been fatal to those involved considering the truck hitting the tricycle.
So are these incidents to be called accidents like how media and local governments still label them? These appear to be preventable. For one, vehicle-related problems could have been addressed by proper maintenance of the vehicle. But then there is also the question of whether the drivers or riders involved in these crashes were practicing safe driving or riding. Were they speeding or doing any risky maneuver? Were they aggressive or reckless? These are but a few factors that come into play and that led to a crash such as the one shown in the preceding photos.
On the increase of road crash fatalities during the pandemic
The general observation has been that roads have become less safe as drivers and riders have tended to speed up their vehicles during this pandemic. Speeding up apparently is just part of a bigger picture and even bigger concern considering what is perhaps also an issue related to mental health. We’ve read, heard or watched something about people’s transformation once they are behind the wheel or riding their motorcycles. I remember a Disney cartoon showing how Goofy transforms from being mild-mannered to somewhat demonic once behind the wheel of the car. The article below reinforces that and relates this behavior with the pandemic.
To quote from the article:
Art Markman, a cognitive scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, said that such emotions partly reflected “two years of having to stop ourselves from doing things that we’d like to do.”
“We’re all a bit at the end of our rope on things,” Dr. Markman said. “When you get angry in the car, it generates energy — and how do you dissipate that energy? Well, one way is to put your foot down a little bit more on the accelerator.”
UN General Assembly resolution on road safety
I’m posting here the 9-page resolution on road safety of the United Nations General Assembly that was recently (August 2020) passed by the body. This is the key resolution that launched a second Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2021-2030. The document may also be downloaded from the net. Here is a link to the document via the Asia Pacific Road Safety Observatory site:
Road crash at NAIA Terminal 1 parking area
[Warning graphic content]
Last May 30, I was picking up my wife at the airport and heard a loud crash as I was getting my ticket for the NAIA Terminal 1 parking lot. I looked around but could not see anything that could concern me. As I rounded the driveway though, I noticed the vehicles in front of me already slowing down. This was the scene that greeted us:
Van in an awkward position against the bushes of the parking lot fence and after colliding with a parked SUV. Security staff were already there and one person (the driver of the van?) seemed out of sorts.
As I continued my drive, I saw this gruesome scene of a person who was likely hit by the van when it crashed into the limited access gate of the parking lot:
The casualty of the incident was lying on the ground with security personnel apparently more concerned about the damaged gate than attending to the person.
Another look at the damaged gate that the van punched through before finally crashing into the SUV and the bushes as shown in the first photo.
I’m not sure if this incident was featured in the news. It surely is something that would likely be not attract so much attention as it may not be as ‘newsworthy’ as other incidents that have happened recently. That is often the case with road crashes, which seem to be regarded as something typically occurring.
One thing we get and should realize from this is that everyone is indeed vulnerable from road crashes. The casualty in the photo (I assume only one) was likely someone who was there waiting for a relative or a client to arrive. Large groups and even whole families may be found at the airport parking lot as they wait for loved ones to arrive. The victim probably was just wiling his time, even texting people about his status, when tragedy struck that night.
On motorcycle taxis becoming the new “king of the road”
There is a really nice feature on Sunstar about motorcycle taxis that came out today. This was shared by a good friend on his social media account, which got my attention as we just completed a study on motorcycles last January 2017. Here is the feature:
Part I includes two articles:
Ilano, M.V. (2017) Habal-habal invades cities, Sunstar Philippines, Retrieved from http://www.sunstar.com.ph, April 4.
Anunciado, D.D. (2017) Deadly motorcycle rides, Sunstar Philippines, Retrieved from http://www.sunstar.com.ph, April 4.
Here’s a graphic from the second article that says a lot about motorcycle safety in Metro Manila:
I would just like to comment that the graphic shows MMDA-recorded crashes in Metro Manila. There can be a lot of incidents that went unrecorded or unreported with the MMDA. It would be interesting to check with the local government units about their own statistics and compare these with the MMDA’s. Also, “crashes” is the preferred term over “accidents” as road safety practitioners and advocates argue that these are preventable incidents.
Sadly, such statistics can only be shown by cities doing the diligent work of recording such incidents. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has already ceased collecting, processing, analyzing and reporting road crash reports many years ago (which is quite surprising for an agency mandated to plan, design, construct and maintain national roads). There is currently no agency (no, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has not yet taken over the enormous task) that is collecting, processing, analyzing and reporting on road crashes at a nationwide scale and few LGUs do so at their levels.
I will also post about Part II once its out. There is a preview of what articles will be in the next feature and so that is something to look forward to.
Responding to the transport impacts of road crashes
Last March 9, traffic was terrible along Marcos Highway and roads connecting to it including Imelda Avenue and Sumulong Highway due to a truck that slammed into the scaffolding of the Line 2 Extension across the Sta. Lucia Mall, and barely missing the newly constructed column supporting the girders and elevated tracks of Line 2.
[Photo not mine but sent by an officemate who was glad to have taken his motorcycle that day instead of commuting by car.]
Following are comments I captured from Waze as I tried to get information about the traffic situation:
It is very clear from travelers’ comments that most were frustrated and many were angry about what seemed to be a very slow response from authorities in clearing the crash site and getting traffic to move faster. I myself wondered how a crash like this with its impacts manifesting in severe congestion along major roads was not dealt with as urgently as possible by so many entities that were not without capacity to act decisively. The front liner should have been the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and there were at least four local government units directly affected by the congestion: Pasig, Marikina, Cainta and Antipolo. Surely, these LGUs could have done more if the MMDA couldn’t, in order to resolve the problem? If the availability of heavy equipment was an issue, weren’t there available equipment from Line 2 contractor, DMCI, or perhaps from the construction sites nearby (Ayala is constructing a huge mall near the area.)? Surely, they could lend a payloader or mobile crane that can remove the truck or at least help unblock the area?
I finally decided to turn back and work from home instead that day. Later, I learned that authorities had to stop traffic along Marcos Highway around 11:00 AM in order to tow the truck and clear the area for traffic to normalize. I hope this serves as a lesson in coordination among government entities and that future incidents like this will not results in a “carmaggedon” like Friday’s congestion. One thing that also became obvious is that travelers passing the area are all dependent on road-based transport and the primary reason why a lot of people were affected by the crash. The expanded operations of the Line 2, whenever that will be, will surely change transport in these areas and for the better.