COMING UP – Raising voices to raise awareness: the testimonies of the Lao PDR Road Crash Prevention Team

Posted by: on Feb 2, 2016 | No Comments

In Lao PDR, Handicap International supports the Road Crash Prevention (RCP) Team to advocate for Safer Roads. The RCP team is a voluntary civil society group, each member having experienced great personal loss due to road traffic crashes.

These life changing experiences have motivated the RCP team to come together to speak to the public about their stories, in order to increase awareness about safe road use. Next month, they will host a mobile exhibition in Vientiane to share their stories.

Road Safety, a major health and development issue

Historically at Handicap International, our first efforts to tackle this issue began in Lao PDR in the year 2000, where our rehabilitation teams found that 80% of the patients we treated were presenting impairments due to road traffic crashes.

We thus began looking at the causes of these crashes and developed public awareness programs in response, becoming one of the first development agencies to prioritize Road Safety within our mandate. Today we work on the thematic of Road Safety in a dozen of countries around the world to address a major health and development issue costing 1.25 million preventable deaths per year and another 50 million injured. We see Road Safety as a complex, multi-sectoral issue, whose solution lies in safe road management, improved road engineering, increased public awareness, vehicle safety and post-crash care.

Raising public awareness for safer roads

In Lao PDR more specifically, we support local government and civil society groups, such as the RCP team, to manage safer roads and to increase public awareness. Laos is a country experiencing rapid economic growth and, with this increased buying power, the number of cars on the road increases by 15% each year. The sheer number of vehicles combined with a very low number of people who have trained properly to drive makes for a very dangerous situation. Combined with poor road conditions, lack of awareness about safe road user behavior and limited emergency post-crash care options has led to the deaths of over 1,100 people on those roads in 2015.

Testimonies written from the point of view of victims of road crashes, are powerful tools to increase awareness amongst the local community. Through sharing their stories, the RCP members hope to make a difference and convince people to adopt safe behavior.

We invite you to read here the story of Mrs Soutchai Phanthavong from Xayabouli Province, leader of the RCP team.

PNGSoutchai testimony

The stories of the other members are also available on their Facebook page.