KT For Good: Your trash can become a road hazard, too
The sixth part of our series focuses on how litterbugs can cause the next big accident on the road.
Is littering an issue from a road safety perspective? Yes, it is.
It goes without saying that our roads, bicycle lanes and walkways should be clean and free from objects and obstacles. However, often, we see all kinds of objects where they don't belong - like plastic sheets, plastic bottles, fast food containers, tyre debris and light-weight materials like wooden sheets. Worse, there will also be sharp objects like broken glass and even nails, screws and similar objects on the road.
We divide littering in two categories: the deliberate littering and the non-deliberate or accidental littering.
When it comes to acts of deliberate littering, we blame poor education, lack of respect for others, a careless attitude and lack of understanding about the effects of littering in the context of road safety.
There are many reports of cigarette butts which get carelessly thrown out of vehicles, only to find their way into the engine compartment of other vehicles, causing fire. And for that smoker whose rear car window is open, the tossed cigarette butt could even land back into the same vehicle, potentially hurting other passengers.
Deliberate littering of other objects, like bottles and food containers, can badly affect vulnerable road users. Just think about the effect a plastic bottle can have to a motorcycle rider or a bicycle rider. We must be aware of these potential consequences of our careless behaviour.
Of course, there are also forms on unintentional littering, for example, when light-weight objects get blown off from trucks or pick-up vehicles. The drivers of such vehicles must make sure that their cargo is safely secured and that no objects can get blown away, potentially landing on the road.
Who wants to be confronted with a plastic sheet on the wind screen while travelling at 120 kmph on a highway?
In my years in the UAE, I had cases of nails stuck in my tyres, causing a puncture and a flat tyre.
How did the nails - and in one case, a screw - get there? By careless handling, of course.
We must make sure that parking areas must not get littered by any hard or sharp objects. If unavoidable work has to happen on or close to parking areas or streets, we must make sure that no potentially dangerous objects are left behind.
Like with so many things in road safety, it is all about common sense, good manners and a caring attitude for others. We must think about the potential impact our littering can have on others - and we simply must avoid it. Roads and other traffic surfaces are public spaces, and we have to use them responsibly.
Thomas Edelmann - Founder, RoadSafetyUAE
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