EghteadOnline: Statistics released by Iranian Legal Medicine Organization (the country’s coroner’s office) on road accidents during the seven months to Oct. 22 show 10,155 lives were lost in roads nationwide, down 1.1% compared with last year’s corresponding period.
Fars topped other Iranian provinces in the number of road fatalities with 933 people, followed by Tehran with 76 and Khorasan Razavi with 732, IRNA reported.
Ilam Province registered the lowest number of fatalities with 76.
Some 78.2% of the fatalities were men and the rest were women, according to Financial Tribune.
A total of 210,657 people were injured in road accidents during the same period, up by 0.5% year-on-year; among the injured, 150,852 were men and 59,805 women.
Iran has one of the deadliest road records in the world. Road accidents are the second leading cause of death in Iran after cardiovascular diseases.
According to UNICEF, the rate of road accidents in the Middle Eastern country is 20-fold higher than the world average.
Road accidents annually claim the lives of 28,000 people and injure or disable 300,000 more in the country.
According to Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, road accidents impose direct or indirect burdens on families as well as the economy. Economic loss as a result of road fatalities accounts for 8% of Iran’s GDP.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2014 report on road safety, Iran has the highest number of deaths caused by road accidents in the world. The report suggested that 43.5 people out of 100,000 are killed in road accidents in Iran. Every 19 minutes, one person dies on Iran’s roads and every two minutes people will hear that one of their family members has survived a crash but with serious injury and perhaps lifelong disability.
With regard to road safety, Iran is ranked 189th among 190 countries globally, according to the Research Center of Central Insurance of Iran. The only country below Iran in this ranking is Sierra Leone in West Africa.
Minister Blames Cheap Fuel
Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi says cheap fuel prices in Iran, costing less than 10% of the global average, are the main reason for the popularity of road transportation, which is responsible for the excessively high number of road accidents and casualties, as well as rising air pollution.
“At present, we have some 20 million vehicles on our roads, which stretch over 250,000 kilometers across the country. About 1.2 million vehicles are added every year and within the next 30 years, there will be 30 million automobiles on the roads. We need smart roads to be able to manage this load of traffic,” he was quoted as saying by ILNA last month.
The official noted that 1.7 billion road trips are made in Iran annually, 700,000 of which pertain to suburban transportation.
Akhoundi added that about 30% of road casualties occur within the radius of 30 kilometers from the outskirts of cities.
“The renovation of dilapidated fleet is directly correlated with fuel price. Since it is cheap, owners of these vehicles are reluctant to upgrade their gas guzzlers,” he said.
Davoud Keshavarzian, a deputy roads minister, said a rise in fuel prices can have a positive effect on fleet renovation and road safety, but this is against the government’s anti-inflation policies, therefore it has not materialized.
Akhoundi believes transportation in Iran needs to focus on railroads.
“The Iranian government has placed expansion of Iran’s rail network on top of its agenda to facilitate transportation, conserve hydrocarbon fuel and reduce air pollution,” he said.
Iran’s Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22) has tasked the government with increasing the share of rail in cargo and passenger transportation from the current 12% and 8% to a minimum of 30% and 20% respectively by the end of the plan.
“To achieve this goal, some $28 billion worth of investments are needed,” Akhoundi said, adding that expansion of rail transportation will help save fuel, reduce pollution and increase transportation safety.