« Back

COVID-19 Could Help Reduce Road Deaths

As founder of the Road Ethics Project in South Africa, I salute you for your succinct explanation of why ethics matter in a global pandemic.

The key area of concern for our Project is road crashes and their associated deaths, injuries and disabilities, and COVID-19 brings into clear focus the fact that human mobility is a double-edged sword. Postmodern humans have come to take for granted a certain degree of freedom of movement, with the better-resourced amongst us thinking nothing of travelling vast distances around the globe - often purely for recreational reasons and personal gratification. Now we are directly experiencing the downside of this freedom, both in relation to international travel and in relation to regional and local travel. With regards to road travel, we have long tolerated ethically unacceptable externalities like congestion, pollution, environmental destruction and road traffic injuries and deaths, naively seeing these as inevitable trade-offs for convenience and speed of movement.

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic may do more to bring the world closer to the unmet goals of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, than any other measure has been able to do! It will be very interesting, in the wake of the pandemic, to track what it has meant for road deaths in particular. We must then step up the level of ethics-based conversation about what that implies for us all, going forward.

- Dr Lee Randall, Johannesburg, South Africa