Make Roads Safe report: combat road traffic injury ‘plague on young’ in Post-2015 Goals

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General Victor Kiryanov
General Victor Kiryanov
Michelle Yeoh
Michelle Yeoh
Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen
Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen

Road traffic fatalities have become a plague on the young and the world must commit to reduce the global death toll by half by 2030 as part of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, according to a new report published on 7 May from the Commission for Global Road Safety.

Alongside the report’s release ‘The Long Short Walk’, a new worldwide social media campaign, was launched. Around the world, groups and members of the public are taking part in walk events, sharing their photos and videos calling for road safety to be included in the post-2015 agenda. The Long Short Walk is being led by the Make Roads Safe campaign together with the family of Nelson Mandela, whose great-granddaughter Zenani Mandela was killed in a road crash aged 13.

Globally, road injury has become a severe health burden for young people – and particularly for young men. It is the number one cause of death for young people aged 15-29 and the second biggest killer of men aged 30-40 after HIV/AIDS. Public health and international development donors must follow the evidence of the recent Global Burden of Disease 2010 study and include road traffic injury within their financial and technical assistance portfolios, the report recommends.

The Make Roads Safe report, ‘Safe Roads for All: a post-2015 agenda for health and development’ calls for road traffic injury prevention to be included in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the mainstream of international efforts to improve global health, combat climate change and tackle inequality and poverty. Road injury is one connecting symptom of all these 21st century challenges, according to the Commission.

Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Chairman of the Commission for Global Road Safety said: “International financial and technical assistance to help governments of low- and middle-income countries to catalyse road safety programmes is urgently needed. The global health and development burdens imposed by road traffic injury are now widely documented. The solutions are proven, measurable and readily available. Now, in the post-2015 debate, we have an unprecedented opportunity to build a wide and strong coalition committed to working together to make roads safe for all.”

The report recommends that:

  • Road safety must be recognised and included in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals framework. This should include a specific global fatality reduction goal of 50% by 2030, as measured from the 2007-2010 baseline data provided by World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013. This would be consistent with the current goal of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, to ‘stabilise and then reduce’ global road traffic fatalities by 2020.

  • Inadequate levels of funding for road safety must be addressed at global level. The UN Secretary General should establish a distinct High Level Group to review progress on the implementation of the Global Plan for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. Its remit should include a review of global funding for the Decade of Action to make recommendations on the catalytic resources needed to promote national and regional road traffic injury reduction. A 2015 Ministerial Conference, at the mid-point of the Decade of Action, should also address the serious lack of catalytic funding for global road safety.

  • A major new international funding initiative is also needed. Car and truck manufacturers, insurance companies, fuel companies, car rental companies and automotive parts and service providers should meet their moral and social responsibility by supporting a new innovative financing initiative for the Decade of Action. This initiative would encourage customers to make a small donation at point of sale to support global road traffic injury prevention. If successful, this common effort would provide significant funding to catalyse country level implementation of Decade of Action for Road Safety initiatives.

  • Safe speed limits are critical and must be linked to the physical protection afforded to road users by road and vehicle design. A ‘people first’ approach to speed management would also encourage walking, cycling and help to combat air pollution, climate change and obesity-related non-communicable diseases. An early example should be set by the Multilateral Development Banks by ensuring that desired design speeds stated for new or upgraded roads are subject to achieving minimum stated safety ratings. A successful pilot in India by the World Bank is delivering roads with minimum ‘3 star safety’ levels for all road users, including pedestrians. The MDBs should commit now to having such a policy in place for all road projects by 2015.

The report was launched at a high level Policy Forum organised by the Commission for Global Road Safety in St. Petersburg, Russia to mark the start of United Nations Global Road Safety Week. The Russian Federation has been playing a leading role in advancing global action on road safety. UN Global Road Safety Week is the worldwide campaigning event from 6-12 May 2013 highlighting pedestrian safety.

The Long Short Walk is being launched during UN Global Road Safety Week to support the call for road safety to be included in the post-2015 SDGs.

Zoleka Mandela, Zenani’s mother, is playing a leading role in The Long Short Walk. She said: “Road traffic injury is taking the lives of more young people than anything else and it is those living in the developing world who are suffering the most. The solutions are right in front of us, but our governments urgently need help and support from the international community in order to respond to this crisis. We must make sure we include road safety in the post-2015 agenda – for the sake of all our children, for our world and the future we want”.

Civil society organisations, community groups and members of the public around the world will be holding Long Short Walk events from UN Global Road Safety Week onwards. People are taking a walk in their neighbourhoods and submitting photos with their own messages aimed at the post-2015 agenda and then sharing them in a global call for action via all forms of social media including facebook, youtube, twitter and flickr.

Michelle Yeoh, Global Road Safety Ambassador and a leading international actor, said: “Until now pedestrians, who make up a majority on our roads but a tiny minority when policies are being decided, had no voice. Now all this is changing. The UN Global Road Safety Week is an opportunity to empower the poorest and most vulnerable, and to give them a voice and a seat at the table when decisions are made. We can ensure that this UN week of action has a lasting legacy of policy change. We can do it by committing to keep walking, and to keep working, for Safe Roads for All”.

The Commission for Global Road Safety is an independent global body with a remit to examine the framework for, and level of, international cooperation on road safety, and to make policy recommendations. The Commission proposed a first ever global Ministerial level conference on road safety which was subsequently adopted by the UN General Assembly and hosted by President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, in Moscow in November 2009. The Commission then proposed a UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, as well as a ‘five pillar’ road safety policy framework for the Decade. The UN General Assembly subsequently proclaimed the ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020’ in March 2010, with a Resolution sponsored by the Russian Federation and co-sponsored by one hundred governments. Members of the Commission for Global Road Safety serve in a personal capacity and have been chosen for their particular knowledge and expertise in road safety, development and related issues. Commissioners come from each of the World regions, and high, middle and low income countries, bringing varied perspectives to the table. The Commission’s work is funded through a grant from the FIA Foundation, a UK charity providing philanthropic support to road safety efforts worldwide.

Click here for more on the UN Road Safety Week

Download the Commission for Global Road Safety ‘Safe Roads for All’ report