brand logo
Road traffic accidents: Impacts on the country’s economy

Road traffic accidents: Impacts on the country’s economy

29 Oct 2023 | By Sarah Hannan

Sri Lanka is witnessing an increasing trend of road accidents reported daily. According to Police data, six persons on average die in road accidents in Sri Lanka per day, meaning that every four hours, one death is reported, at least three seriously are injured, and four persons require treatment for minor injuries. As per the country analysis, road accidents rank ninth among the leading causes of death in Sri Lanka.

A research paper published in the South Asia Economic Journal titled ‘The Economic Impact of Road Accidents: The Case of Sri Lanka’ by Thangamani Bhavan, notes that the rapid increase in the number of fatalities and injuries due to road accidents are likely to increase the economic burden of the country. The increasing number of significantly injured victims overburdens the health system, and could possibly increase costs for accidental patient care systems.

In a 2016 report, the Ministry of Health, Nutrition, and Indigenous Medicine proposed that improvements in accident and emergency care across the country in a timely manner were crucial. However, the healthcare system is now lacking the necessary infrastructure, standard human capital, and standard equipment at each level.

Bhavan shared further observations on how road accidents hindered the country’s economic growth, as the victims of road accidents were possibly from the active labour force. Road accidents could push families into multidimensional poverty if they either lose their breadwinners or have to look after their family members who become disabled.

2023 accidents

Police Traffic Unit Chief ASP Manoj Ranagala, speaking to The Sunday Morning, stated: “Among the 150 deaths reported due to road accidents from 1 January to 15 October this year, 115 have been schoolchildren. Reckless driving causes road accidents. In comparison to the 2,515 deaths that occurred due to road accidents in 2022, there is a reduction this year. The negligence of road users, lack of attention of the driver, and the age of the driver being less than 18 years are identified as human factors that contribute to the occurrence of Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs).”

While the impact on the country’s economy has been studied, not enough studies have been conducted to understand how a person’s socioeconomic status contributes towards the occurrence of road accidents.

Reasons for major RTAs

A 2022 study published by D.S. Kodithuwakku and T.S.G. Peiris titled ‘Factors Contributing to the Road Traffic Accidents in Sri Lanka’ identifies six reasons for major RTAs: overtaking, diversion, speed driving, alcohol consumption of drivers, negligence of pedestrians, and mechanical fault of vehicles. 

Furthermore, negligence of road conditions by drivers, lack of attention of drivers, age of drivers being less than 18 years, and alcohol consumption by drivers were accounted for when analysing the cause of accidents.

Of the first six causes, 84% of RTAs were due to overtaking (32%), diversion (25%), and speed driving (27%). Similar trends were also observed for annual data separately. The percentage of RTAs due to alcohol consumption by drivers is 8.7%. 

As more details of each cause are not available, it is reasonable to assume that overtaking, diversions, speed driving, negligence of pedestrians, and mechanical faults of the vehicle are not due to alcohol consumption of the driver. In fact, there was no significant correlation between alcohol consumption by the driver and negligence of pedestrians and between alcohol consumption of the driver and the mechanical faults of the vehicle.

Kodithuwakku and Peiris suggest that the public should adhere to the following to reduce RTAs:

  • Lane driving should be strictly followed
  • Drivers should be encouraged to use signals
  • Pedestrians should be educated on using sidewalks, safe road crossing procedures, and watchfulness while crossing roads
  • Traffic signalisation, pedestrian bridges, and pavement tunnels are good alternatives to prevent pedestrian accidents as they allow pedestrians to cross the road without coming into contact with vehicles
  • Use stop signs at the intersection between the main road and the sub-road
  • Establish speed reduction methods to ensure pedestrian safety

More News..