FIA Foundation delivers keynote at Network for Employers of Traffic Safety

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NETS brings together major companies to benchmark fleet safety.
NETS brings together major companies to benchmark fleet safety.

On October 12-13, nearly 200 members of Network for Employers of Traffic Safety including major Fortune 500 companies held their annual Benchmarking Conference in Orlando, Florida. US Manager Natalie Draisin delivered a keynote address, providing an update on the Decade of Action for Road Safety, and highlighting next steps towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) is dedicated to improving the safety and health of employees, their families, and the community by preventing traffic crashes both at work and at home. Members convened to discuss the importance of fleet safety, best practices, and talk about contributions towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Natalie Draisin provided an update on the Decade of Action for Road Safety, which NETS signed on to, taking a leadership role in promoting the critical role of businesses in road safety. Draisin discussed the Foundation’s Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility, and Global Fuel Economy Initiative in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals. She also suggested other opportunities for businesses to engage in safe and sustainable transport organizations such as Global Green Freight, Global NCAP, and an online training tool on fleet safety. The tool, a 10-course curriculum called EASST Academy was launched the same day in Dubai. It is comparatively affordable to classroom-style trainings at $50/user, and accessible 24/7 from anywhere in the world.

Such savings are helpful to businesses, especially as road traffic crashes can incur massive expenses. They cost between 3-5% of the world’s GDP, and a NETS report showed that crashes cost employers $47.4 billion in directly related expenses, which includes medical care, liability, lost productivity, and property damage. As the world’s vehicle fleet grows, road crashes and air pollution will grow too, potentially costing employer even more in both lives and money, but also placing them in a unique position to prevent such costs.

Many organizations have already made significant commitments to saving lives on our roads, such as one of FIA Foundation’s partners, J&J and their pharmaceutical arm, Janssen. They signed on to the Save Kids Lives campaign, contributed to the Road Safety Fund, supported the Safe Schools initiative in South Africa, and donated thousands of motorcycle helmets to students and teachers in Vietnam through their Helmets for Kids initiative, together with the AIP Foundation.

The UPS Foundation has also successfully decreased injury and fatality rates by providing helmets to students. In Cambodia, the UPS Foundation supported a ‘helmet vaccine’ together with the FIA Foundation, AIP Foundation, CDC, and USAID. With their help, the initiative increased helmet wearing rates, advocated for legislation to mandate and enforce helmet use for passengers, and implemented school-based helmet safety education programs.

The power of partnerships like these is why the FIA Foundation created the Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility. The effort doesn’t just contribute to the Global Goals, it contributes to another major UN process as well – Habitat III. The Habitat III conference, held this coming week, will mark the adoption of the New Urban Agenda. The Agenda is a roadmap for sustainable urbanization – a hot topic as over 80% of the world’s will live in cities by 2050.

The New Urban Agenda includes a commitment by UN member states to safe and healthy routes to school for children. As a result, more governments should be interested in this area, looking to partner with businesses like the members of NETS, committed to keeping kids safe and healthy on the way to school. “Those kids may not be your employees now, but they could be in the future. For now, they’re the children of your employees. By keeping them safe, you’re keeping your employees and their communities safe too,” said Natalie Draisin.

Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr, Vice Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, praised NETS on their leadership and boldness in spearheading many safety efforts. “We can’t overstate the influence of employers, not only on your employees, but on the entire community,” she said.

With many of the world’s top companies and champions of fleet safety, NETS has been a leader around the world. The organization won the Prince Michael Awards for Road Safety last year for their Comprehensive Guide to Road Safety, and is aiming to broaden its scope internationally. A more international influence would make strides towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal to halve the number of deaths and injuries on the roads by 2020. “The Decade was aiming for 1 million deaths by 2020, now the SDG is striving for 600,000. The goal may have changed but the timeline has not. We’re grateful you’re in it with us, because there’s no way we can get there without you. Your efforts to keep your employees safe and healthy trickle down to their kids and their communities, too. You will inevitably save lives you didn’t even know existed,” said Draisin.

(main photo courtesy Shane O’Connor, FedEx)