- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2003

A 7-year-old lost her parents and brother, 47 bus passengers were killed, 12 pilgrims suddenly lost their lives and four tourists never returned home — all because of recent road accidents that seemed to be acts of fate.

But the United Nations says such accidents can be prevented through stronger law enforcement, better roads and bridges, vehicle maintenance and educated drivers.

Here are some examples taken from wire service reports:

• Last month, British 7-year-old Sadie I’Anson’s family car collided with another car that was traveling at about twice the legal speed limit in Athens. Her parents and brother died, she lapsed into a coma and two persons in the other car were killed. A couple of weeks later, she was among mourners at her family’s funeral.

• In the same month in Mexico, two persons were killed and 45 were injured when a school bus flipped over on a mountain highway after 90 Indian protesters squeezed onto the bus. The vehicle was too crowded to make a sharp turn around a curve.

• In September, 47 bus passengers were killed in Uganda when the bus tried to pass a smaller vehicle and instead hit an oncoming truck carrying sacks of corn for the U.N. World Food Program. A few days earlier, police had fined the driver for recklessly passing several vehicles.

• This month, seven Buddhist pilgrims died and 12 others were injured when their pickup truck collided head-on with another truck in northern Thailand. Police said a sharp curve was at the end of the bridge and the driver was unfamiliar with the road.

• In South Africa in the past month, 108 persons died in road accidents. Among them were 12 persons when a taxi tried to overtake another vehicle and collided head-on with a truck, 13 persons when their bus crashed on a slippery road, and 21 persons when a truck smashed into a bus.

• In the same country this month, a runaway truck smashed into a funeral procession north of Johannesburg and injured 31 persons. The collision apparently occurred after the truck’s brakes failed.

• Also this month, four Russian tourists and two Egyptians were killed in Cairo when a truck abruptly deviated from its route and collided with their minibus. This frequently happens in Egypt. A few weeks ago, one German and six Polish tourists were killed in a crash.

• In September in Pakistan, 24 men and three children died when a train crashed into their bus at a railroad crossing that didn’t have a gate or lights to warn of oncoming trains.

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