Whichever country around the world you live in there will no doubt be certain characteristics unique to that particular area which may be very different from that of another country. There is a post on the expat forum which relates to the safety of young children and young people in foreign lands. While it is a disturbing thread, discussing road accidents and deaths, it does offer an opportunity to discuss the differences in motoring regulations, safety standards and other local regulations around the world.
Background to the thread
The thread was started by a lady living in Paphos who has experienced the deaths of two young boys in road traffic accidents and a murder in the region as well as a six-year-old boy falling from a second story apartment (who is now seriously injured in hospital). The idea of the thread is to highlight while this is very much out of the ordinary in Cyprus, and in particular in Paphos, there are issues which need to be addressed and problems which many people believe have been waiting to happen for many years.
Motoring regulations in Cyprus
Anybody who has been to places such as Cyprus will be well aware of the popularity of motorbikes and motor scooters. Despite the fact that there are age limits with regards to licences and access to such vehicles it appears as though a number of very young children have gained access to many of these machines, without driving lessons and without due care and diligence regarding their own safety. Not only are these young drivers placing their own lives at risk but they’re also placing other competent and innocent lives at risk of accidents and very distressing situations.
Even though it is not only the likes of Cyprus where such activities are popular with the young in the area, it is the fact that in general Cyprus is a very safe and quiet community that has brought the situation to a head.
Safety on the roads
While it is easy to point a finger and blame the authorities for these children driving scooters, often without helmets, along busy main roads, unfortunately each and every driver today has an obligation to take extra precautions to ensure as fewer accidents as possible occur. Even though this should not be the case we are talking about potentially life-threatening accidents which can not only snub out a life in a second but can also leave perfectly innocent drivers with a hefty burden to carry for the rest of their lives.
Interestingly while the vast majority of us appear willing to let these young people drive on the roads away from us, perhaps it is time for us to take the lead and inform the authorities of these potentially dangerous situations. Not only are these inexperienced and often illegal drivers putting themselves at risk but they are also putting fellow motorist at risk and indeed innocent pedestrians. Even though there may be some stigma attached to reporting such instances to the police, we should all remember that we could actually be saving a life if the authorities become involved and reduce the instances of underage and illegal drivers on the roads.
Safety issues in your home
One of the terrible scenarios described in the thread relates to a young child who fell out of a second story apartment on to the ground below. This more than anything reiterates the fact that where children and babies are involved we cannot take anything for granted and literally we cannot turn our backs for a second. It is essential that such simple actions as taking keys out of doors and ensuring windows are securely closed is something that we do as a matter of course.
While it is easy to accuse people of being overprotective and overly concerned it literally just takes a second for a child to push a window open and slip, or open a door and walk away, possibly never to be found again. A quick look around the international press highlights the fact that children wandering off and playing with open windows happens on a regular basis, but it is only the worst case scenarios which are ever reported in depth.
Checking out your environment
Whether looking to see how the road system and motorists react in your new homeland, or holiday venue, or whether you are checking the security aspects of your apartment or home it is vital that you are fully aware of your surroundings. We all get tired, we all think it will never happen to us but unfortunately tragic events such as traffic accidents or accidents in and around the home are happening with worrying frequency. Any parent will be well aware that you need to literally have your eyes open all the time and sometimes eyes in the back of your head!
Local regulations and local laws
As we touched on above, the chances are that many of us who move overseas or indeed holiday overseas will at some stage see regulations and laws being broken, whether this is youngsters driving scooters without helmets or possibly a lack of safety precautions around your new home or holiday apartment. Where we are not able to take action ourselves, such as window locks and other safety issues, it is vital that the authorities are made aware of the situation as soon as possible. Quite literally your prompt action in alerting the authorities could save lives and save families the grief which sadly follows.
Unfortunately there are many avoidable accidents which happen around the world with worrying regularity so surely if we are able to in any way influence or reduce the number of these accidents then we should act accordingly?
While extra precautions on the road, where young drivers are obviously inexperienced and potentially dangerous, are essential we also need to break away from the stigma attached to involving the authorities. It is not wrong to try and help somebody who is putting their lives and others in danger because if your child were in the same situation surely you would expect an onlooker to take preventative action?
Safety around the home and in holiday apartments is something which has improved dramatically in places such as Cyprus, and around the world, over the last few years. However, young adults, children and babies are naturally inquisitive and quite literally we all need to have “eyes in the back of our heads”!