Today, we hear from Dr. Tim Teusink, one of our co-workers here in Ethiopia who is based in Addis Ababa.  He wrote about an unfortunate accident he recently had, and in that post cited some interesting and alarming statistics.  Here at SCH, we wanted to share it with you to give you the full picture of just how dangerous the roads can be here.  Tim writes:

We are so grateful for the relative peace and stability that exists here, surrounded as we are by countries with unrest.  Unfortunately, that stability does not quite apply to driving, as visitors frequently attest.  I advise white-knuckled passengers to close their eyes and pray rather than scream and add to my driving stress.  According to the WHO’s 2009 road safety global status report, “the road crash fatality rate in Ethiopia was at least 114 deaths per 10,000 vehicles per year, compared to only 10 deaths in the UK…. The number of people killed in crashes in Ethiopia is 30 times higher than in the US”.  [Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, Vol 28, Number 1, 2014, pgs 1-2.]  Pedestrians account for 87% of the fatalities and often walk/run/jump into oncoming traffic when least expected or visible. I take driving very seriously, yet almost daily have close calls, and am always grateful for a safe arrival.

During the last 15 years of daily driving here, I frequently have been bumped/banged/scraped/hit by taxis, minivans or private cars but they generally just bounce off my big, beat-up, 20+ year-old Toyota LandCruiser, which increasingly resembles a demolition derby participant.  I’ve not had a serious accident…until last week, when I was slammed into at high speed on my driver’s door by a reckless minivan taxi driver who either didn’t see me or was trying to overtake me on the left, as I was turning left (with turn signal on, in a left turn lane).  Fortunately, I was wearing a seatbelt (I have a recurring fear since ER doctor days decades ago that my obituary would read “Dr. Tim died after being ejected from his car and wasn’t wearing a seat belt”, after all the lectures I’ve given patients about the importance of wearing seat belts).  Thankfully, neither the passenger in my car nor myself was seriously injured but we both were rather shaken.  I and my insurance company are responsible for repairs to both vehicles as well as the medical bills, plus the pain and suffering of a slightly injured passenger in the van that hit me.  Henceforth, I won’t be driving anymore in Addis Ababa (too much risk and liability) but am surely grateful to be alive!

Tim’s car after the crash

We’re glad you’re alright, Tim!  Praise the Lord.  And to our readers, would you pray with us for safer roads in Ethiopia and public health policies that work toward that end.  And pray for wisdom for us as physicians as we take care of the hundreds of traffic accident victims that we see every month.