According to government sources an increase in tourist arrivals is expected for this year, but, how safe are the Island’s streets and roads? In Cuba, there are 54 cars per 1,000 population, a number far lower than that in many countries, but accidents are frequent.
An example of that is this accident, at the crossing of Calzada de 10 de Octubre and Calzada de Dolores streets, Lawton, 10 de Octubre municipality, which occurred yesterday afternoon, June 5, 2017, when the traffic light suddenly went off because of a power failure, a consequence of the so-called scheduled blackouts the Cuban capital has been increasingly suffering over the past several months. No one was killed, but three people were wounded and there were damages.
This year, between January and April, 3,702 accidents have been reported, with 244 persons killed and 2,792 hurt. According to the Comisión Nacional de Seguridad Vial (National Road Safety Commission) violation of the right of way, ignoring traffic lights, excess speed, pedestrian violations, drunken driving and reckless pulling ahead are among the causes of accidents.
But the report makes no mention of the critical state of streets and roads, both main and secondary neighborhood arteries, which a real disaster.
According to official data, 10,895 accidents with a toll of 667 people killed –half of which were pedestrians run over in a total of 163 incidents- were reported throughout 2016. Compared to 2015, in 2016 traffic accidents went down, as did the number people killed and wounded, Havana Seguridad Vial (Vial Safety) President Tatiana Viera Hernández pointed out.
Statistics show traffic accidents have become the fifth cause of death in Cuba, where an accident takes place every 47 minutes, on an average. The Boyeros municipality shows the highest number of accidents. Among the places where the highest number of accidents occur in Havana are Quinta Avenida, calle 100 from 31 up to Vento, Paseo de Ayestarán street up to Malecón and Avenida Rancho Boyeros.
Police surveillance is dreadful because the police are never where the common citizen needs them. In Cuba, cars are scarce, but accidents are numerous, and a high number involve electric bicycles, a new means of transportation for some time now.
By Steve Maikel Pardo Valdés, Defensor del Pueblo (People’s Defender) and 10 de Octubre municipality CID activist.