[Letters] Education a key to solving high road fatality rate

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[Letters] Education a key to solving high road fatality rate

Recently I read the news that cites Korea as the country with highest rate of road deaths in the OECD. Despite a drop in figures, Korea has remained at the bottom of this table, which is a very unfortunate outcome.

I do not want to criticize but offer a solution based on the examples put forward by my own country, Ireland. Some years ago Ireland had equally troubling road-death statistics but in the space of 10 years the Road Safety Authority - the government body charged with supervising road safety - managed to help to halve the number of annual fatalities, and in turn they received an award recognizing the work done.

The way they went about doing this was through education - in schools, in the media and on the streets. Legislation was reinforced by a series of positive steps which encouraged motorists and pedestrians to take more responsibility for their actions.

As Ireland is a smaller country, it may appear like a poor comparison with Korea, a country with over ten times the population, however both countries have many similarities in their situations. One of these is their recent modernization and wealth which has led to more and more cars on the road. Another is large rural areas where roads are poorly policed and attitudes are adverse to change.

Ireland can also furnish examples of the trauma of road deaths. As a mostly urban society Korea may not experience the reality of this problem, but Ireland, with its small communities, brings this problem home. In my home town, a town of around 8,000 people, I know seven people who have died in road accidents over the years, including my younger brother’s best friend.

by Conor O’Reilly English-language lecturer in the School of Global Communications in Kyunghee University
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