August festivals and traffic accidents

The first week of August is a week of vacations in El Salvador, leading up to the August 6 celebration in San Salvador of the Divine Savior of the World.  It is a time for parades, religious processions, parties and trips to the beach.

Each year, however, it is also a time when the rate of traffic accidents soars, and this year started with a particular tragedy.   A freight truck carrying 43 people to a Catholic youth gathering had a mechanical failure, rolled over and crashed killing 12 and leaving 30 others wounded.  So far during the vacation week which started last Saturday, another 7 people have died in traffic accidents for a total of 19.

The UN World Health Organization describes traffic accidents as a leading cause of preventable death and injury.  The WHO page on El Salvador is here and shows statistics through 2007 regarding the death toll on El Salvador's roads.  But safety may be improving on El Salvador's roads.  There are current statistics on the El Salvador Vice Ministry of Transport website which shows 525 traffic deaths from January 1 through July 25, 2011.    That's an 8% decrease from the prior year, and represents an annualized rate of 900, well below the 1493 reported in 2007.


Back in 1999, a New Zelander remarked that "pedestrians have no rights" in El Salvador.

I corrected her, of course. "This is a very Catholic country," I told her. "Pedestrians have last rights."
Carlos X. said…
Unfortunately, we don't have a culture of safety in the road in El Salvador. In the U.S., we reminisce about the bad old days when we rode without a seat belt in the back of Dad's station wagon. In El Salvador, you can see video on the news of a dozen people flying when the pickup in whose bed they were riding (unbuckled, of course), careens through the air.
Mike said…
I always chuckle when in El Salvador because my drivers always remind me that I need to wear a seatbelt, because the laws are strictly enforced. Because driving without wearing a seatbelt is dangerous...however, standing in the back of a 30 year-old pick-up with 20 others while driving 60 miles/hour along a terrible road is not dangerous and thus permitted.