Road traffic crashes are not an unusual sight in Pakistan. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that every year more than 25,000 people in Pakistan loose their lives in road traffic crashes. That is 68 people per day. Every day.
Acknowledging that road traffic crashes are a risk, UNHCR Pakistan participated in the Safe Road Use workshop programme for staff and managers. In total over 200 staff members from the offices in Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad joined the workshop sessions in which experiences were shared, own road behavior was discussed, causes for crashes were analyzed and suggestions for improvement were made to UNHCR Management were made.
Heart breaking stories were shared amongst the participants; from recollections of narrow escapes of being a road crash victim to stories from staff members who lost family members, relatives or friends in a crash.
For many participants the Safe Road Use workshop was an eye opener. One of the participants mentioned: “I knew that Pakistan had a high fatality rate. But I never knew it was this high.”
Participants also had a critical look at themselves and how their own behavior increased the risk of being a crash victim. Apart from the obvious measures like wearing seatbelts or helmets, the participants also discussed how their lack of time management could lead to pressure on others, especially drivers. “A lot of the times we are telling ourselves we are in an emergency…whilst in reality we just didn’t plan well enough” was one of the remarks made in this regard.
The management team was presented with numerous suggestions from staff how to improve road safety for UNHCR in Pakistan. In a management workshop Senior Management in the country office identified actions that will be implemented in the next couple of months to ensure that staff stay safe on the roads and that other road users or people of concern will not be impacted by UNHCRs road travel.