Even if the crazy BASE jumpers in the above video weren’t leaping off a bridge from a moving vehicle, the simple act of being on the road is one of the most dangerous things they can do.
Base Jumping vs Driving
In 2007, Soreide, Ellingsen and Knutson published a report on BASE jumping fatalities. The team of researchers accrued results from 20,850 BASE jumps which took place in Norway between 1995 and 2005. They found one in every 254 jumps resulted in a non-fatal accident while one in every 2,317 jumpers died. That’s nine deaths in 11 years. On a global scale, close to 200 BASE jumpers have died since the sport began in 1981.
Comparing this to global road statistics, by the latest estimates, a person is killed in a road crash every 25 seconds. That equates to over 3,300 deaths every day, and roughly 1.2 million each year.
Of course, there are a lot more people driving than base jumping. But the point of the comparison is not to suggest the two activities are exactly alike. Rather, to highlight the fact that both are life-threatening yet only receives the title of “extreme”.
When you go base jumping, you know what you’re doing is dangerous. In fact, famous thrill seeker and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Omer Mei-Dan, explains the risk is what makes him love it:
“I like being afraid, I like the fear, I enjoy it. In base jumping, every small thing dictates life or death. It makes me feel vibrant.”
People just don’t take this kind of attitude about driving. Even though it is the most dangerous activity they do on a daily basis.
The brutal facts about road traffic accidents
According to the World Health Organization:
- More than 1.2 million people are killed in road traffic accidents each year;
- Close to 50 million people receive injuries, many resulting in permanent impairment;
- Road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for our youth;
- These injuries place a massive burden on our health system and hospitals;
- 90% of road deaths occur in developing nations;
- The economic cost to developing countries is in excess of $100 billion each year;
- All of this is preventable.
Solutions from the world of machines and technology
Virtual reality road crash simulators
In an effort to reduce road fatalities, companies like AT&T in America, and MAC in Australia, have created virtual reality vehicles that simulate various experiences in which drivers become distracted and crash. The machines, which are becoming more and more sophisticated each year, give people as close as they can get to the real experience of causing a fatal accident. Just without the horrendous consequences.
High friction surfacing
UK-based company Hitex International have a number of initiatives aimed at making our roads safer through construction. With the same road making equipment most construction companies use, Hitex create road surfaces that help drivers pull-up earlier when braking.
Aussie company doing global good
Here in Australia, Global Road Technology (GRT) are using similar techniques. They also have their own polymer technology which reduces airborne particles from construction sites and prevents light soil erosion. They regularly work with governments, mining companies, commercial and industrial enterprises, farms, and military bases across the world and here in Australia.
Aware of the World Health Organisation statistics, they are also concerned about the global state of our roads. Managing director of GRT, Troy Adams, explains this is why the company has undertaken initiatives in developing nations.
“The incidence of road crashes in the Middle East is rising at an alarming rate and is now the leading cause of death among young adults. An effective road safety strategy needs to be developed and implemented, and an essential component must be improving the quality and durability of the roads.”
While they have undertaken work all around the world, their latest project is in the United Arab Emirates. Along with improving roads, GRT has undertaken work in the desert nation to protect the archaeologically valuable Mleiha fort site from the impact of modernisation.
In tandem with their construction work, GRT put programs in place to educate young people about road safety. The company provides high vis backpacks, bike helmets and child car seats to supplement their educational program.
“With 500 children dying every day due to road crashes, it’s essential that we educate them about the dangers of the road.”