By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz

BIKE LANE. A young woman uses the bike lane along Elliptical Road in Quezon City on June 19, 2023. The Department of Health on Friday (May 10, 2024) said such active transport infrastructure programs will help reduce the number of road crash casualties by reducing the number of cars on the road and providing protection to cyclists and pedestrians. (PNA photo by Jess M. Escaros Jr.)

MANILA – Road crash-related injuries remain to be the top cause of death and injuries among children and adolescents and the number continues to increase, the Department of Health said Friday.

According to the DOH Online National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, in 2023, 31.1 percent of reported injuries were due to vehicular crashes.

The DOH also noted a consistent upward trend in the number of road crash incidents as motor vehicle usage and ownership increased.

The DOH said bicycle lanes, walkways, and other active transport infrastructure programs would help reduce the number of road accident injuries and fatalities, as well as mitigate the increase in non-communicable diseases.

The DOH lauded the appropriation and investment of more than PHP5 billion for the planning and implementation of active transport infrastructure and called it “welcome progress”.

“Active transport can mitigate the increase of non-communicable disease (NCD) conditions like diabetes and obesity, provide resilience to instability in fossil fuel prices, and empower Filipinos to pursue sustainable lifestyles against climate change,” it said in a statement.

The World Health Organization said road infrastructure and urban planning that places pedestrian and cyclist safety first are among the most cost-effective interventions for better road safety outcomes.

On the other hand, infrastructure projects that focus on motorized transport and economic efficiency often neglect the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and commuters.

“[Active transport infrastructure] not only reduces preventable crashes and related injuries and deaths but also makes our roads more accessible to all, improving access to transport and mobility for almost 90 percent of Filipinos who do not use cars,” the DOH said.

As chair of the Inter-agency Technical Working Group on Active Transport, the DOH assured that it would remain steadfast in improving “awareness, understanding, and attitude of Filipinos towards road safety, and to promote and protect the health of each Filipino through active transport and a safe environment.” (PNA)