FISEVI Child Road Safety Forum calls for post-2015 target to save lives

Main Image
Nani Rodriguez, President of the Fundacion Gonzalo Rodriguez
Nani Rodriguez, President of the Fundacion Gonzalo Rodriguez
Felipe Rodriguez Laguens President of the Ibero-American Road Safety Observatory (OISEVI)
Felipe Rodriguez Laguens President of the Ibero-American Road Safety Observatory (OISEVI)

The first Regional Child Road Safety Forum (FISEVI) held in Montevideo, Uruguay on 20 and 21 May called for the inclusion of road safety in the ‘post-2015’ agenda and for a zero-tolerance policy on child road traffic injuries and fatalities. The event was organised by the NGO Gonzalo Rodriguez Foundation with support from the FIA Foundation, the MAPFRE Foundation and other entities.

The Forum agreed the ‘Montevideo Declaration’ calling for road safety to be included in the post-2015 development agenda as part of a commitment on global health. The Declaration highlighted the call for a global post-2015 target of reducing road traffic deaths by 50% by 2030.

FISEVI brought together a wide range of stakeholders from across Latin America. The Forum’s fifty panellists included advocacy activists, public health specialists, epidemiologists, paediatric experts, academics and engineers. Organisations included NGOs, foundations, auto clubs, international bodies, private sector companies and universities from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Spain, the United States, Mexico and Uruguay.

The Latin American and Caribbean Region has an average mortality rate of 17 road deaths per 100,000 population, half of which is represented by pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Road injury is the leading cause of death for children aged 5-14 and the second leading cause for the 15-44 age group in the region. This led the Gonzalo Rodriguez Foundation to start child road safety advocacy and programmes in Uruguay in 2007, which it has replicated in other Latin American countries in partnership with automobile clubs.

With support from the FIA Foundation, the GRF has successfully campaigned for better awareness of the safety benefits of child restraints and has helped introduce legislation and enforcement and worked with government and industry to improve the quality of child seats. Organising a Forum was a natural follow-on.

The event provided a platform for best practice and knowledge sharing to develop a child road safety policy adapted to the needs in Latin America and the Caribbean, and was preceded by a workshop for media. To bring down the number of road traffic injuries and fatalities, the region needs to adopt a systems approach in road safety management, which was reflected by the panel discussions around the five pillars of the Decade of Action.

FIA Foundation Director of Partnerships Rita Cuypers spoke at the Forum. She said: “A powerful coalition has convened here at FISEVI to address child road safety in the context of the Decade of Action. Road traffic injury is a major public health crisis for children in Latin America, the leading cause of death for the over five age group. Projects such as those led by the Gonzalo Rodriguez Foundation are proving that we can tackle this crisis and safe lives. But as we look towards the post-2015 development agenda we need to see road safety become more of a regional and global priority. This Forum is an important step towards that objective.”

Many countries in the region lack reliable data on road traffic crashes and resulting fatalities and injuries, which is a prerequisite for efficient road safety management. The creation in 2011 of the Ibero-American Road Safety Observatory OISEVI, supported by a regional database that follows the IRTAD (International Road Traffic Accident Database) model has helped improve capacity for harmonized collection of road injury data and guide policy making and targeted public health intervention.

Sessions on the five pillars of the Decade of Action for Road Safety looked into policies to make roads, vehicles and road users safer.

The infrastructure session set the scene with the work of the International Road Assessment Programme that inspects high-risk roads, develops star ratings for car occupants, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and recommends simple and affordable engineering solutions to eliminate 1 and 2 star roads. An application for the benefit of children is ‘safe school’ initiatives that consist of education of children, training of teachers and measuring and improving infrastructure safety. An example of such a pilot project in Mexico was presented, demonstrating the successful partnership of the Road Safety Fund and FedEx with Safe Kids and iRAP.

Latin America and the Caribbean is still lagging behind in vehicle safety standards, which was addressed in the third pillar discussion.  The panellists discussed how minimum standard regulations are necessary, but how consumer crash test programmes such as Latin NCAP open competition to the car industry for reaching the highest standards and allowing consumers to favour the best standard. Since its introduction in 2010, Latin NCAP has made considerable progress with increasing engagement from the car industry and governments in the region.

The Forum discussed a road crash that happened earlier this year in Spain which demonstrated the power of vehicle safety, in-vehicle safety equipment and road users following the rules. A school bus carrying 21 high school students plunged down a cliff but only a few children sustained injuries and this thanks to the safe body structure of the bus and the children wearing their seat belts.

The Forum was warned repeatedly that children are not small adults and that this misconception has resulted in them being overlooked in legislation and enforcement, statistics, road and vehicle engineering and even post-crash care.

FISEVI will be held every two years and it was announced that the next event will be hosted by the Automobile Club of Chile in Santiago de Chile in 2016.

Download the Montevideo Declaration here >

Vote for ‘better roads and transport’ in the UN’s Post-2015 agenda here >