Parliamentary Network Review focuses on safer road infrastructure

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Lord Robertson wrote for the Review in his capacity as a member of the UK Parliament
Lord Robertson wrote for the Review in his capacity as a member of the UK Parliament

The need for safer road infrastructure in developing countries has been highlighted by the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank and IMF, an organisation which provides a platform for parliamentarians around the globe to advocate for increased accountability and transparency in International Financial Institutions and multilateral development financing.

Writing for the Parliamentary Network Review, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, a member of the UK Parliament and a trustee of the FIA Foundation, argues that the approval of road safety targets in the Sustainable Development Goals should accelerate efforts to introduce minimum performance metrics for highways built or upgraded with donor funds by the Multllateral Development Banks (MDBs). In his article Lord Robertson praises the work of the World Bank, and regional development banks, in promoting road safety and encouraging adoption of the ‘Safe System’ approach but argues that the Banks should use their policy leadership position to urge bolder action by client countries. He identifies the forthcoming 2nd Global High Level Conference on Road Safety, being held in Brasilia in November, as an opportunity for the MDBs to build on their Rio+20 Commitment for Safe & Sustainable Transport by working with governments to focus on bringing safety performance on the 10% of highest risk roads up to the equivalent of an iRAP ‘3 star’ safety rating for all road users by 2020.

Lord Robertson writes: “The economic benefit of investing in safer infrastructure is compelling. The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) is a UK charity which has developed non-profit highway safety assessment protocols and star ratings which are now being used or piloted in more than 70 countries worldwide. The charity estimates that raising the 10% highest risk roads in 82 low and low/middle income countries to at least a ‘3-star’ (out of 5) iRAP performance level would cost around US $70 billion but would prevent 20 million deaths and serious injuries and more than US $700 billion in economic costs over twenty years. Implementing safety improvements and countermeasures as part of initial road building or routine maintenance, rather than the traditional approach of reacting to ‘black spots’ after fatal crashes have occurred, is a more cost-effective and comprehensive approach.”

Lord Robertson will be the opening speaker at a major conference, ‘A World Free of High Risk Roads’, in London on 15th September 2015. The event, part of the annual FIA Mobility Conference, will bring together policymakers, automobile clubs and NGOs from across the world. The meeting will hear about progress in implementing minimum star rating for road infrastructure amongst both leading road safety perfomers in high-income countries and in middle and low-income nations, with attendees including ministers from Australia and Mexico, the Chairman of Highways England, and the new UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt.

Read Lord Robertson’s article for the Parliamentary Network Review