Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ah, Motorcycles!

I got from the news last night that Michelle Yeoh,- my long-time crush, of “Tomorrow Never Dies” fame came to Manila for her global campaign for road safety and warned my fellow Filipinos that deaths and injuries from road accidents, specifically those involving motorcycles, were reaching epidemic levels. Ms. Yeoh, a Malaysian-born actress is an ambassador for the “Make Roads Safe” campaign. In her speech to international transport forum sponsored by Asian Development Bank (ADB), the “Silver Hawk” said, “There is so much we can do to save lives on our roads." My “amen” on that.

I cannot help but remember a catch phrase from female members of a US-based motorcycle club : “Put something exciting between your legs.” And the statistics on motorcycle accidents do not bring excitement but horror in many ways.

As early as 2007, the World Health Organization or WHO considered deaths and injuries from motorcycle accidents as a "public health epidemic" in many countries in Asia, including in the Philippines. WHO Healthy Settings and Environment regional adviser Hisashi Ogawa reported that, "most motorcycle deaths are a result of head injuries. While wearing a helmet correctly can cut the risk of death by almost 40 percent...many countries do not strictly enforce laws covering the use of helmets," he pointed out. The WHO said that young men were more likely to figure in road accidents than young women : "Males account for 75 percent of all road traffic fatalities among those under 25 years of age. Young males under the age of 25 are almost three times as likely to be killed as female counterparts."

Here in Occidental Mindoro, people belonging to low- and medium-income families use motorcycles not only as a family vehicle but the most common means of private transportation. Those from affluent or wealthy families,- especially teenagers, use expensive motorcycles to show off to their friends and some of them are involved in illegal drag racing. "Young motorcyclists make up a significant percentage of injuries and fatalities among road users in many Asian countries. Factors such as speed, no helmets, risk-taking behavior, and drunk-driving contribute to the rising trend," the report said.

To solve this, there is a dire need not only for infrastructure development, but also for behavioral change. It would be helpful if, for example here in San Jose,- motorcycles and bicycles would be provided separate lanes, instead of motorcyclists fighting for space with tricycles, power tillers, cars, trucks, and buses,- exposing them to danger. But people should also be encouraged to strictly obey traffic rules and road safety precautions.

A friend of mine also tremendously suffered such tragic accident sometime last February 22, 2010, but he is now almost back in shape. He even sipped a little alcohol and tried a small puff of nicotine and always burst into laughter will all his heart when we visited him. “This man came to life again”, I told my self when we came by surprise to his parish yesterday. Yes, Fr, Giovanni “Jojo” M. Gatdula is now back to his priestly function since Tuesday. Not taking medicines anymore but still doing some self-help therapy. With all our prayers he survived.

So, what else can I say : “We are glad you are back, Fr. Jojo!”

(Photo softlinked from ABCNews)

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