LAHORE - The crowd was not that big, but some of the losses were personal for those observing the “World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2017” at Lahore’s Faisal Chowk on Sunday afternoon.

The day is observed on the third Sunday in November every year as an appropriate acknowledgment of victims of road traffic crashes and their families. A British charity for road accident victims started observing this day in 1993 and it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005.

This year the motto was “Make roads safe”. Senior police officers, traffic officers, civil society and trade union workers gathered on The Mall in front of the Punjab Assembly to mark the day. Relatives of the victims of road crashes were in the spotlight at the ceremony.

Addressing the participants, Chief Traffic Officer Rai Ejaz Ahmed said that rash driving, traffic signal violations and motorcycle-riding without helmet were major reasons for fatal road crashes this year in Lahore. He said that almost 80 percent accidents occur due to human error, four percent due to mechanical fault and 16 percent due to other reasons, including bad road conditions.

“This year, we have noted that 42 percent of the total accidents took place because of rash and reckless driving. Only 4.38 percent accidents were reported due to mechanical faults. We can control road crashes by educating people and by introducing road safety measures,” the CTO said.

A candle-lit vigil was also arranged by the City Traffic Police Department on The Mall. DIG (Security) Dr Moeen and SSP Rai Ejaz were present on this occasion besides several traffic officers and wardens.

“We must learn lessons from our past experiences and we should educate the masses about the road safety laws. The traffic laws should be followed in letter and spirit to save precious lives in Pakistan, where thousands of people die in road mishaps every year,” the DIG said.

On this occasion, the city traffic officer expressed solidarity with the families of the victims of road mishaps. Special prayers were also held for those who died in accidents this year in Lahore.

On the other hand, speakers at a road safety seminar held at Lahore Press Club on Sunday said that effective planning and implementation of traffic laws could help curtail fatal road accidents . They said that at least 1.3 million die in road crashes worldwide every year and in Pakistan 13,000 people die in accidents annually.

The seminar was organised by the National Highways and Motorway Police in collaboration with the Lahore Press Club at Faiz Ahmed Faiz Auditorium in connection with the “World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.”

The seminar was attended by President of Lahore Press Club Shahbaz Mian, Secretary Abdul Majeed Sajid and DSP (Headquarters) Mansoor Javed. A good number of people from different walks of life also attended the seminar.

Speaking on the occasion, DIG Masroor Alam Kolachi said that many people don’t know about road sense and safety measures. He said that motorway police had brought a visible change in traffic discipline on national highways and motorways by adopting admirable standards of professional excellence, public service and equal implementation of road safety laws. “The 18-year-old department of the motorway police is a role model for 68 year-old departments of the country,” he said. The officer also emphasized that licences of those involved in severe violation should be suspended and this suspension should have an impact.

On this occasion, Shahbaz Mian said that highways and motorways were expanding very fast and with this expansion, especially construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, motorway police will have to work extraordinarily to maintain high standards of enforcement of laws.

The speakers were of the view that there was a dire need to create awareness about traffic rules and adopting road safety measures so that loss of precious lives and properties could be avoided. Earlier, the motorways police officers visited the Jinnah Hospital to express solidarity with victims of traffic accidents. They also presented flowers and gifts to victims of road crashes who were under treatment at the hospital.