US Congress to World Bank President: require minimum ‘3 star’ road safety

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Rep. José Serrano
Rep. José Serrano
Senator David Perdue
Senator David Perdue
Senator Edward Markey
Senator Edward Markey
Rep. Tom Emmer
Rep. Tom Emmer

Forty-nine members of the US Congress have written to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim encouraging him to ensure a minimum ‘three star’ safety performance on all Bank-funded roads.

In a bi-partisan initiative, 41 members of the House and 8 members of the Senate signed letters to the World Bank, asking for a ‘three star’ minimum safety performance standard on all Bank-funded roads. The three star standard is deemed both affordable and safe by the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP), a charity dedicated to preventing road deaths.

The FIA Foundation provides core financing support for iRAP’s work and is a member of the ‘Three Star Coalition’ advocating for safer roads which has worked with members of the US Congress to raise awareness of the need for safer road infrastructure.

Contributing $5 billion a year to build roads, the World Bank is recognised as a policy leader. Requiring minimum safety standards, at least initially on high volume roads, would reinforce the World Bank’s role in achieving the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target for road safety, to halve the amount of deaths and injuries on the roads by 2020.

Adopting a three star minimum safety standard would also position the World Bank in the ranks of other countries leading the way. For example, the Netherlands has committed to a three star minimum on all national roads by 2020; Sweden to a three to four star minimum on 75% of all roads by 2020; New Zealand a four star minimum for all roads of national significance; while Highways England has committed that 90% of travel on its network will achieve a 3-star safety rating or better by 2020.

US Members of Congress want the World Bank to influence safer road design in its development portfolio. In their letter, they stated, “too often, roads in developing countries are built without the proper safeguards to prevent crashes, and with little regard for the safety of all road users, including vulnerable pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.  The design requirements for safe roads are well understood, and development agencies’ construction projects should more closely follow these guidelines.”

Bipartisan leads on the letter included Representative Jose Serrano (D-NY), and Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN) in the House, and Senator David Perdue (R-GA), and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in the Senate. The leads issued a joint press release: “Road safety, both at home and abroad, is vital to citizens’ security, helps decrease healthcare costs, and boosts economic competitiveness. We have to make developing countries’ roads meet minimum safety standards to protect the lives of millions of people while promoting economic growth,” said Serrano. “As developing nations continue to grow, transportation is key to allowing industry and trade to expand and there is no organization more important to this than the World Bank,” added Emmer.

The letter concluded, “By requiring a three-star minimum rating, you have the opportunity to make a major and lasting contribution that will save people’s lives, significantly reduce traffic-related injuries, and enhance economic growth.” Natalie Draisin, who has been representing the FIA Foundation in the ‘Three Star Coalition’ efforts on Capitol Hill, commented, “The World Bank has already made an impressive and important commitment to road safety through the Global Road Safety Facility, not least in working with iRAP to pilot minimum three star roads in India with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Now, it has the chance to lead a universal commitment to minimum safety standards on our roads. The target of halving global road deaths by 2020, agreed by all UN member states in the Post-2015 negotiations this week, demands such a statement of intent from the World Bank, to be swiftly followed by action.”

On the House side, signers included Jose Serrano, Tom Emmer, Chellie Pingree, Jim McDermott, Christopher Smith, Keith Ellison, Bradley Byrne, Stevan Pearce, Sam Graves, John Lewis, Chris Van Hollen, Corrine Brown, Raul Grijalva, Brendan Boyle, Barbara Lee, Denny Heck, Earl Blumenauer, Bill Pascrell, Wm. Lacy Clay, Paul Tonko, Randy Weber, Mike Quigley, Scott DesJarlais, Scott Peters, Danny Davis, Daniel Lipinski, Scott Perry, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Yvette Clarke, Brendan Boyle, Maxine Waters, David Cicilline, John Garamendi, Daniel Kildee, Mark Pocan, John Conyers, Steve Cohen, Lou Barletta, Chris Stewart, Michael Honda, and Sam Farr. From the Senate, signers included David Perdue, Ed Markey, Johnny Isakson, Dick Durbin, Cory Gardner, Patty Murray, Barbara Mikulski, and Maria Cantwell.

See here for more information about the Three Star Coalition