This morning, on her way to work, our beloved nanny was hit by another motorbike and badly injured.
Though the idiot who tried to outrun the traffic was driving way too fast, she was, thankfully, almost at a standstill. The impact, knocked her over and her bike landed heavily on her leg and arm. She has no broken bones just some very impressive bruising all over the RHS of her body and a concussion. She was, unlike most motorbike riders here, wearing a helmet. I am so grateful.
Every night as Bau leaves I say in Lao:
“Goodnight Bau, thank you for today, please drive carefully.”
This is a ritual based on the very real fear that something might happen to her. Driving a motorbike on the streets of Vientiane is unbelievably dangerous. Most people don’t have a licence. There are few, if any, road rules and even if there were the drivers don’t know them. The infrastructure has not kept up with the growth in population and affluence – and therefore an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. Every time I get out of my car I give thanks that I have not hurt or injured someone. Incompetence and ignorance amongst the drivers is only compounded by the inaction and apathy of the government.
By coincidence, I was at the leading trauma hospital in this country yesterday. An organisation I did some work for raised funds to purchase gurneys and wheelchairs for this severely underfunded facility. We were there to check out the new equipment and, rather embarrassingly, be thanked for our generosity (the staff there should be lauded for their dedication and achievements). I was speaking to the head of trauma (a neurosurgeon himself and trained in both Russia and France – now there is a story) and he said that 70% of all the patients at the hospital are the victims of motorcycle accidents.
You can’t ask people to stop riding motorcycles in developing countries. It is a necessary evil, an affordable and convenient method of transport for many, many families and individuals but I would like to investigate a way to promote, ROAD SAFETY EDUCATION!
We love you Bau.
Rest, recover and return when you are able.
I’m fired up now and it would be fabulous to channel this frustration constructively. So if anyone out there reads this and knows of effective tools for change in the area of Road Safety Education I would love to hear you thoughts or follow your links.
Thanks for reading. Drive carefully.