EghtesadOnline: H oping to help promote road safety and spread public awareness during the annual Norouz holiday season (March 20-April 2), the Iranian Red Crescent Society has launched an online campaign that has gone viral.
Participants in the campaign, dubbed “Behraft” are required to sign an entente whereby the commit to strictly observe traffic rules. They are also encouraged to share the entente on social media platforms calling on others to join.
The entente is short and only includes five articles as per which motorists commit themselves: to respect speed limits, avoid overtaking from the wrong side, not to use the cellphone behind the wheel, always wear their seatbelt and not drive when feeling sleepy.
Such a move might seem unimportant and many may question the need and effectiveness of such campaigns. However, participants argue that even if a handful of motorists are convinced to uphold the five simple rules it would be a step in the right direction, according to Financial Tribune.
Shahab Saboonchi, head of Iranian Red Crescent Society Youth Organization told ISNA, “In the past few years similar campaigns were launched before the Persian New Year.” To enhance the results and trying to get more people to join, this year organizers have focused more on social media platforms.
From business people to startup owners and well-known artists, many have joined the campaign. Farhad Aeesh, Roya Teymourian, Soroush Sehhat, Leyli Rashidi, Jaleh Sameti, Shaghayegh Farahani, Laleh Eskandari, and Setareh Eskandari are among better known film and TV actors participating in the campaign.
Urban authorities and government officials have also lent support. Some of them are ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Education Minister Seyyed Mohammad Bat’haei, Head of Iran Emergency Organization Pir Hossein Kolivand, the Commander of Law Enforcement Forces Iran Hossein Ashtari, head of Iran Relief and Rescue Organization Morteza Salimi and Mehdi Hajati a city councilor from Shiraz.
President Hassan Rouhani has participated in such campaigns in the past and is likely to join this year too.
The Red Crescent Society has reported that over the past ten years more than 202,000 people were killed and 2.5 million were injured in road accidents in the country.
Road fatalities during the Norouz of last year increased compared to the holiday season in 2017.
Statistics released by the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization show that 1,034 people lost their lives in road accidents between March 16 and April 4, 2018, an 18% increase compared to a year earlier.
The number of road mishaps resulting in loss of life experienced a 21.6% rise, reaching 366. Accidents resulting in injuries climbed to 4,141, up 23.8% compared to a year earlier.
Many families travel by road in the extended Norouz holiday season to visit family and friends. For two weeks all intercity highways are clogged. Road mishaps and fatalities at this time of the year are usually higher.
The three main factors contributing terribly to the tragic deaths and serious injuries are human error, bad roads and vehicle quality.
According to Traffic Police chief General Taqi Mehri, over speeding, overtaking from the wrong side and driver fatigue accounts for nearly 85% of the car crashes.
Traffic Police has envisaged measures to make road trips safer during Norouz, including deploying extra officers setting up emergency response centers.
Traffic Police Chief for Roads, Mohammad Hossein Hamidi has said between March 16 and April 6, all construction work on urban and intercity roadways are banned.
Half-built roads and under-construction paths add to driving risks and consequently increase fatality rates, he warned.
"To facilitate safe travel, rest areas, mobile health centers, shops and vehicle service stations along with emergency response centers are open long roadways and highways, especially along desert roads and rugged terrain."
Outlining the road safety measures, Mehri said in addition to the police officers already stationed 5,000 more will be deployed around the country as of this week.
Recalling that last year's road death toll in Norouz was unacceptably high, the general expressed the hope that new safety measures will help and families travel safely.