Urgent call for ‘Safe System’ in 2018 at transport summits in Washington DC
With many countries slipping further from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal target for halving road traffic injuries, the need for a radical change in approach has been at the forefront of transport events in Washington DC setting the policy agenda for 2018.
A major new report on the Safe System approach, ‘Sustainable & Safe: A Vision & Guidance for Zero Road Deaths’ was launched by the World Resources Institute and the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility, published in association with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the FIA Foundation.
The report, launched during the ‘Transforming Transportation’ event at World Bank headquarters, emphasises the importance of viewing road safety as a public health issue, rather than one of personal responsibility alone. It thus shifts responsibility away from people using the roads, to the city planners and officials designing them.
Claudia Adriazola-Steil, Health and Road Safety Director for the World Resources Institute said, “Society should not sacrifice health and well-being for other benefits, such as traffic flow or budget savings. Unsafe streets share many characteristics: they lack sidewalks and accessible crossings for pedestrians, they allow unsafe speeds and don’t protect cyclists. The mobility system should create a forgiving environment that minimizes the possibility of crashes, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where 90 percent of traffic deaths occur.”
FIA President and UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, was a keynote speaker at the World Bank/World Resources Institute event, which is supported by the FIA Foundation. Introducing the session “Meeting Road Safety Financing and Implementation Challenges”, he took stock of the progress achieved since the beginning of the UN Decade of Action in 2011. Among the achievements, he highlighted the inclusion of two road safety related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, the mandate given to the UN Secretary-General in April 2016 to investigate the establishment of a UN Road Safety Fund and finally the submission to the UN Secretary General of a Consultation Paper for the establishment of this Fund in 2017. He was also happy to share Antonio Guterres’ response to this Paper, requesting to take all necessary steps to establish the Trust Fund. “So as we scale up our efforts to meet the road safety funding and implementation challenges that we are faced with, I am confident that by working together, we can achieve our shared goals.”
At the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, about 14,000 of the world’s transportation professionals gather in Washington, DC to discuss the most pressing topics in safe and sustainable mobility. This year, at the forefront of the global road safety discussion was the urgent need to learn from countries which have successfully adopted the safe system approach.
With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Global Road Safety Facility launched a report, ‘The High Toll of Traffic Injuries: Unacceptable and Preventable,’ which shows that cutting traffic deaths and injuries by half could add 7 to 22% to GDP per capita over 24 years in select countries; Welfare benefits equivalent to 6 to 32% of GDP per capita could be realized over the same period if traffic deaths and injuries were halved; and road traffic injuries are the single largest cause of mortality and long-term disability among people aged 15-29, prime working age.
Speaking at TRB’s Global Road Safety Subcommittee meeting, Soames Job, the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Lead and head of the Global Road Safety Facility, said, “If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll see a death rate from road traffic injuries equivalent to a world war – 21.7 million deaths, and 875.5 million injuries from 2018 to 2030.”
Many meetings at TRB included a focus on the safe system approach, and a need to protect children and adolescents for whom road traffic injuries are the largest killer throughout the world. The FIA Foundation’s North America Director, Natalie Draisin, said: “One of the hot topics is Vision Zero for Youth – the idea that cities can build momentum towards Vision Zero by starting with the population that needs it most, and by setting an achievable short-term goal of reaching zero deaths among youth. Our partner in the US, National Center for Safe Routes to School, is carrying this message throughout our country. In Mexico, our partner the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy is proving that Vision Zero for Youth is possible in an emerging economy. Together at TRB, they are generating crucial momentum behind this international movement.”
The Global Road Safety Subcommittee meetings featured both national and international leaders in the field, such as the FIA Foundation, International Road Safety Assessment Program, National Association of City Transportation Officials, International Transport Forum, DC Department of Transportation, Transportation Alternatives, CH2M and Jacobs, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Institute of Transportation Studies, and the Danish Road Directorate. At the subcommittee’s bicycle workshop, James Bradford, Global Operations Manager of the International Road Assessment Program, said “When half of the world’s 1.3 million road traffic fatalities are vulnerable road users - cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists - we cannot afford to ignore this population. iRAP is committed to strengthening data around cycling to create safe and sustainable biking infrastructure.”
Led by NACTO and the FIA Foundation, a charrette offered participants an opportunity to design an infrastructure and advocacy plan based on the safe system approach, studying an intersection in Sao Paulo, Brazil. NACTO’s Program Manager, Ankita Chachra said, “This charrette is based on a real life problem in Sao Paulo. Safe infrastructure for cyclists isn’t just about safety, it’s also about promoting active mobility and moving people more efficiently. It's about offering people alternatives to fuel dependent - private cars to get to work and school, particularly for those who may not be able to afford a car.”