Priyantha Fernando* (34) was heading home after a typical day’s work when his motorcycle crashed into a lorry. His wife and two children saw their lives changed instantly when they lost the family’s sole breadwinner. Unfortunately, this tragic and unnecessary loss of life is all too common in Sri Lanka.
The estimated annual road crash deaths per capita is the highest among its immediate neighbors in South Asia and five times that of the best performing countries in the world.
High road crash fatality and injury rates on Sri Lanka’s roads are undermining the economic growth and progress made over the past decade on reducing poverty and boosting prosperity. Over two thirds of road crash victims are productive, working age adults between 15-64 years of age.
This situation is exacerbated by the rapid growth in vehicle ownership - 67% between 2011 and 2018 - and the diversity of motorized and non-motorized traffic of varying sizes and speeds. This leaves vulnerable road users without adequate protection – more than 90% of crash victims are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
If this trend continues, as expected, crash fatalities and injuries will steadily climb— unless urgently required measures are implemented.
This is an issue vital to the country’s health, well-being, human capital, and economic growth.