In every decade of my Christian life, I can recall news items in both the secular and Christian media where mission people (from the West) have lost their lives in a variety of ways. Some through MAF air crashes, some through misadventure, many as a result of murder, some in car accidents and some through martyrdom.
Now, it's holiday makers who make the news by dying when on a trip. It's been all over the news as it was 5 years ago when I first noticed this news item. I read on News.com 25,000 people die each year when on vocation, mostly through car accidents. Driving is the No.1 risk on any major trip, citing the FIA Foundation in Europe, which trumps terrorism, plane crashes and infectious disease, for which we hear much more and given more official cautions over. Drugs are not far behind now.
According to the research, it will get worse, almost doubling to 45,000 by 2020 (five years time) and tripling to 75,000 by 2030 in line with the overall increase in road fatalities. Tourists account for 5-10 per cent of road fatalities in some European countries. Be sure your travel insurance has death coverage including a casket being sent home.
The FIA, a federation of motoring organisations and the governing body of world motor sport, warns against a lethal cocktail of killer roads, unsafe vehicles, dangerous driving and disoriented travellers in a new report published on World Tourism Day.
The report says tourists expect the highest standards of safety when they step on a plane to travel on holiday but are then placed in lethal situations when driving as this is an area for which most people feel a level of comfort and over assurance.
The rental car market is huge across the world and the number of rental car vehicles on Australian roads with drivers both from interstate and overseas, likewise makes Australians an equally lethal mix.
It has been difficult to get exact figures on Australian rental car statistical accidents other than news reports of overseas travellers killed in road accidents.
World wide statistical data available on tourist visitors are most revealing as France has double of its nearest rival, with 76.5 million visitors each year with Spain next at 49.5 million and then comes the USA, at 45.5 million visitors. The cheap rental car market in Europe in particular has added to these alarming FIA concerns.
Now we read an article on the number of young Australians who unfortunately travel, in effect, on a one way ticket. For example, 147 have died in Thailand between 2005 and 2010, in Vietnam it is 123 and in the Philippines it is 109. The article quotes Graham Kingaby, of Travel Insurance Direct, said people tended to get into trouble abroad because they relaxed their usual standards of safety when travelling.
It illustrates than when we travel overseas, the most likely place you'll get injured or worst case scenario, killed, is on the road.
In my Mission activities in recent years, I've travelled from Tweed Heads to each and every Australian State and overseas to numerous locations including Eastern Europe. In most situations I've had a rental vehicle.
Rental vehicles are available at very reasonable costs, and how constantly vigilant we need to be on the road. The missionaries who visit Laguna Quays Respite and who fly into Proserpine or Mackay have access to an AVIS rental vehicle under a special arrangement with Well Being Australia.
In own own situation, each time I drive a rental when away, my prayer is that I will drive carefully and those drivers near us are likewise as vigilant.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html