Road safety on agenda for Organisation of American States

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José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General, OAS and Carlos Macaya, FIA Foundation
José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General, OAS and Carlos Macaya, FIA Foundation

An FIA Foundation delegation has held talks on road safety with the Organization of American States (OAS).

Foundation board members Marilena Amoni and Carlos Macaya, and the Foundation’s US Director, Dr Bella Dinh Zarr, met with the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, at the OAS headquarters in Washington DC. They discussed the role of the OAS in promoting road safety throughout the Americas, and the opportunities presented by the planned Global Ministerial Conference in Brazil in 2015, as well as the current negotiations at the UN on the ‘post-2015’ sustainable development goals.

Countries in Latin America and Caribbean experience a high level of road injury, with an average of 19 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, but much higher in some countries. Some estimates predict an increase as high as 30 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants by 2030 - the world’s highest road fatality rate. Road crashes represent the second highest cause of death in the region overall currently and are the leading cause of death for young people. Costs associated with road crashes consume an average of 3-4% of GDP.

The Foundation delegation explained the charity’s support for road safety programmes and interventions in the region. This includes grant support for the child-safety focused interventions of Fundación Gonzalo Rodriguez, and road safety initiatives of many FIA automobile clubs. The Foundation is the main core donor to the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP), which is guiding infrastructure safety interventions by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); and our funding has enabled the launch and operation of the Latin NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) independent car crash test programme. The Foundation also partners with the private sector, NGOs, and institutions including the IDB through its Road Safety Fund, jointly managed pro bono with the World Health Organization.

Secretary General Insulza said: "Road safety is a very important issue for us. We can do something - let's do something about this." In response, Carlos Macaya said: : I am delighted about Secretary General Insulza's willingness to improve road safety safely among OAS member states”. Marilena Amoni commented: “I was impressed with the Secretary General's experience and leadership in road safety in Chile and his commitment to the issue.”

Bella Dinh Zarr, US Director of the FIA Foundation, said: “We enjoyed a constructive discussion with Secretary General Insulza, and reviewed the scale of the road traffic injury epidemic in Latin America and the Carribbean, and the role the OAS can play in building government support for action. The region is experiencing rapid motorisation and high levels of traffic injury. This has spurred Argentina to take concerted action with loan assistance from the World Bank, and Brazil to offer to host a global ministerial conference in 2015. Over the next 18 months we need to integrate road safety firmly within the Sustainable Development Goals and develop an implementation and funding plan for the second half of the Decade of Action for Road Safety and the post-2015 agenda. The support and engagement of governments and civil society across the Americas will be vital.”