US urged to take action to meet SDG road safety targets
Senior officials from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and US National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA) have joined the FIA Foundation in urging greater efforts by the United States to meet the new Sustainable Development Goal road safety targets. A reception organised by the FIA Foundation at the annual US Transportation Research Board, in Washington D.C., on 11 January 2016 focused on the role of the US in achieving the SDG road safety targets.
Natalie Draisin, US Manager, opened by introducing the US Advisory Board to the FIA Foundation. She congratulated the attendees on their efforts to decrease US road fatalities by 40% in the past 40 years. The US showed leadership not just domestically, but also internationally. Leadership such as US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx were key players in advocating for the goal to be adopted.
However, she added that the goal puts the US in a bind: “Our country is not on target to achieve the very goal we pushed for.” In fact, it’s far behind in the race. While the high income country average is 9.2 deaths per 100,000, the US has been hovering around 10 deaths per 100,000 for the past several years. “The leadership we needed to adopt this goal is the leadership we need now to achieve it,” she said.
Saul Billingsley, Director General of the FIA Foundation, continued with a gripping statistic. “The ten most populated countries account for over half of the world’s deaths on the roads -including China, India, Pakistan, Nigeria… and the United States. None of them has laws that meet the best practices on all five risk factors,” he added.
Providing a public health perspective, Ann Dellinger, Branch Chief, Home, Recreation, and Transportation Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emphasized the need to catch up to other countries. “We need to show the US where we stand in relation to other countries that are like the US,” she said. The involvement of the public health sector is key, as the Brasilia Declaration agreed upon at the 2nd Global High Level Conference on Road Safety in November of 2015 highlighted the need for public health and transportation to work together.
Representing the transportation sector, Jeff Michael, Associate Administrator for Research and Program Development at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) (main photo above), offered inspiring remarks. “We’ve made progress in building the structure needed for change. Fatalities have decreased 25% in the last 10 years, but they’ve hit the bottom. And so far, the data isn’t looking positive. What happens here has a big effect on what happens globally – but we need a change in the US.”
The UN Sustainable Development Goal presents a unique opportunity for the US to utilize an international resolution to motivate change at home. The country has come a long way, but it still has far to go, particularly in the next five years to catch up with its counterparts. Many of the attendees Monday evening were those who have helped save lives on the roads in the past, and who will be looked to in the effort to save lives in the future.