Lebanon News

Nearly 500 died in traffic accidents in 2019

BEIRUT: Traffic accidents in 2019 claimed the lives of 487 people since the beginning of 2019, according to new numbers released by the Interior Ministry’s Traffic Management Center Thursday. Approximately 4,582 traffic accidents occurred in Lebanon in the past year and 6,101 people were reported injured, according to the numbers.

An Internal Security Forces source told The Daily Star that the new fatalities from the last 24 hours were included in the total numbers released Thursday.

The source said that the numbers were not yet final and that they would continue recording until the end of the year.

Traffic accidents have long been a major problem in Lebanon for a number of reasons including poor road conditions and reckless driving.

According to World Health Organization estimates for 2013, there are around 23 road fatalities for every 100,000 people in Lebanon, compared with 11 in the United States and five in the European Union.

In September the carnage on Lebanon’s roads dominated the front pages of local newspapers after at least 11 people lost their lives in a single weekend.

Ziad Akl, the founder of the road safety organization YASA International, said there was likely more to the numbers released by the TMC.

At present, traffic statistics are based on reports produced by the Internal Security Forces that only provide basic information.

Akl said that numbers of fatalities that are reported reflect only immediate deaths. Many victims die days or even weeks after an accident, once they are in hospital.

“There are hundreds of people who die in hospital after an accident that aren’t recorded by the ISF,” he said. “There is a huge discrepancy between the numbers from hospitals and numbers by the ISF,” Akl said, underscoring that the lack of data was not ISF’s responsibility.

He said that the winter will likely bring more accidents, especially with the flooding the country has seen in the last few weeks due to heavy rainfall.

Roads flooded Thursday as storm Loulou hit the country. Thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and strong winds are expected to continue into Friday evening according to Rafik Hariri International Airport Meteorological Department.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 27, 2019, on page 2.

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