Road Safety Worldwide
Road safety is not only a major concern for South Africa but indeed a concern that requires the immediate attention of Nations worldwide. The Commission for Global Road Safety has during June 2006 presented a Report titled “Make Roads Safe” that could have a far reaching effect on the way we approach road safety.
The Report by the Commission for Global Road Safety aims to focus political and public attention on a global road traffic injury epidemic that claims the lives of more than 1.2 million people and injures around 50 million annually.
The Report has indicated that dangerous roads have significant impacts on developmental objectives – especially because of the immense economic and social cost of road crashes to low and middle income countries. It is important that the knowledge gained by high income countries also be transferred and implemented in low and middle income countries.
The arrive alive road safety website will strive to make available information about road safety elsewhere in the world – and envisages that this information will enhance road safety initiatives in Southern Africa.
Executive Summary of the "Make Roads Safe Report"
The Executive Summary of the “Make Roads Safe Report” provides insight on the threat of road safety – through some of the following important statistical data:
- The World Health Organization has estimated that in 2002 almost 1.2 million people died in road crashes worldwide and as many as 50 million were injured. Unless action is taken, global road deaths are forecast to double by 2020 and yet many of these deaths and injuries are known to be preventable;
- More than eighty five per cent of road traffic deaths and injuries occur in low income and middle income countries. Road traffic deaths and injuries impose huge economic costs on developing economies in low and middle income countries. These economic costs are estimated at $64.5 billion - $100 billion. This compares with total bilateral overseas aid that amounted to $106.5 billion in 2005.
- Despite the rapidly increasing road traffic deaths and injuries in low and middle income countries, road safety has been almost totally ignored as an issue of sustainable development.
- Global road safety is seriously under resourced. The Report estimates that annual bilateral grant aid explicitly for road safety in middle and low income countries is currently below $10 million a year.
- There is a growing recognition that investment in road infrastructure will be an important factor in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
- Road investment will increase exposure to the risk of road traffic deaths and injuries, unless a coherent action plan for road safety is also put in place.
- Insufficient attention is being given to the road safety component of the NEPAD roads programme. To strengthen the road safety dimension of this much needed investment in Africa’s roads, there urgently needs to be increased donor support for road safety related knowledge transfer and technical capacity, both at country level but also in regional bodies.
- High income countries have developed effective road safety measures after decades of trial and error and human tragedy. While more effort is still needed in the industrialised nations the major challenge now is to ensure through early intervention that low and middle income countries do not have to experience the same bitter learning curve. Much of the experience available in high income countries is transferable to low and middle income countries.
- The World Report on road traffic injury prevention, published by WHO and the World Bank in 2004, details the key road injury ‘risk factors’, the major contributing factors to road crashes and injury severity, including drink driving; lack of helmet use; seat belt non compliance; excessive speed; and poor infrastructure design and management. The World Report recommends practical actions to mitigate these factors and an integrated ‘safety systems approach’ to road safety improvements, using a lead agency to coordinate the development of national road safety strategies and plans.
- The international community is starting to take notice of the global road safety epidemic. UN General Assembly resolutions in 2003, 2004, and 2005 have recognised that there is a ‘road safety crisis’ in middle and low income countries, and have mandated WHO to organise a global road safety collaboration to coordinate the responses of agencies and stakeholders.
- Co-operation on road safety between the industrialised countries has a long history. These international efforts have included the exchange of best practice in road safety actions and strategies, research collaboration and the sharing of data systems, and negotiating international standards for motor vehicle and road construction standards. By contrast, middle and low income countries currently have very limited opportunities for international road safety collaboration.
- The World Bank has established a Global Road Safety Facility to generate increased funding and technical assistance for global, regional and country level initiatives to build capacity and implement road safety programmes in low and middle income countries.
- To implement the recommendations of the World Report, an Action Plan for global road safety is needed.
- Political support for road safety is vital.
- Road safety is a shared, multi-sectoral, responsibility of governments and a range of civil society stakeholders. Successful road safety strategies in all countries depend on a broad base of support and common action. Beyond the sphere of government, civil society can make a huge contribution to road safety.
- The World Bank estimates that, if fatality rates per vehicle in poorer countries were reduced by 30% by 2020, more than 2.5 million lives could be saved and 200 million injuries avoided.
- The Commission for Global Road Safety hopes that G8 leaders can give a strong signal of support for investment in safer roads and for implementation of the recommendations of the World Report.
- The epidemic of road deaths in the developing world is a major and growing public health problem. It is recognised that many of these deaths and injuries are preventable.
Conclusions and Recommendations from the Global Status on Road Safety Report 2015
This report shows that 1.25 million people are killed each year on the world’s roads, and that this figure has plateaued since 2007. In the face of rapidly increasing motorization, this stabilization of an otherwise projected increase in deaths is an indication of the progress that has been made.
However, efforts to reduce road traffic deaths are clearly insufficient if the international road safety targets set for the Sustainable Development Goals – a halving of deaths by 2020 – are to be met.
A multifaceted approach is required for the most effective and long-lasting changes to be made to national road safety. Such changes have been achieved in a number of high performing countries that have taken on the Safe System approach, and have seen reductions in road traffic deaths and injuries despite increasing motorization. The challenge today is for the downward trends in road traffic deaths seen in these countries to be replicated in other (mainly low- and middle-income) countries, but in a shorter timeframe. Political will is crucial to driving such changes, but this report shows that action is particularly necessary on a number of specific issues:
• Changing road user behaviour is a key component of the Safe Systems approach. Setting and enforcing good laws relating to key behavioural risk factors can be effective at realizing such change.
Although some progress has been made over the past three years with 17 countries (representing 5.7% of the world’s population) improving legislation on key risk factors, many countries lag far behind in terms of making sure their laws are in line with best practice.
• Lack of enforcement frequently undermines the potential of road safety laws to reduce injuries and deaths. More work is needed to explore the best ways to optimize enforcement of existing road safety laws. Social marketing campaigns need to be conducted to support and maximize the effects of enforcement.
• Insufficient attention has been paid to the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, who together make up 49% of all global road traffic deaths. Making the world’s roads safer will not be possible unless the needs of these road users are considered in all approaches to road safety – including the way roads are built and the way vehicles are manufactured. Making walking and cycling safer will also have other positive co-benefits if these non-motorized forms of transport become more popular, including more physical exercise, reduced emissions, and the health benefits associated with such changes.
• Making cars safer is a critical component of saving lives on the roads. Vehicle technology has advanced enormously, yet while cars in high-income countries are increasingly safe, this report shows that almost 75% of countries around the world – notably low and middle-income countries – fail to meet even the most basic international standards on vehicle safety. And these standards are not only important to protecting car occupants involved in a crash but are also essential to protecting pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
The lack of such standards in middle-income countries that are increasingly becoming major car manufacturers also risks jeopardizing global efforts to make roads safer. Governments must urgently sign up to the minimum international vehicle standards as requirements for manufacturers and assemblers, and limit the importing and sale of substandard vehicles in their countries.
The report also highlights a number of other areas that countries need to address in order to improve road safety. These include improving the quality of their data on road traffic injuries, having a lead agency with the authority and resources to develop a national road safety strategy whose implementation they oversee, as well as improving the quality of care available to those who suffer a road traffic injury.
Click on the banner above to view the Make Roads Safe website
[The Commission for Global Road Safety was established by the FIA Foundation to examine the framework for and level of international cooperation on global road safety, and to make policy recommendations]