World Bank echoes call for lower speeds to save lives

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As part of UN Global Road Safety Week, the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) and Road Safety GSG together with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a seminar with partners to discuss efforts to reduce fatalities on the world’s roads. Focusing on speed management, the seminar included contributions from the health sector, global NGO partners, and donors.

At the seminar, “UN Global Road Safety Week 2017: Interventions for a Healthy Society” on 11 May, presenters highlighted the crucial role of speed management to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal to half the number of deaths and injuries on the world’s roads by 2020. Soames Job, the World Bank’s Global Lead Road Safety and Head of GRSF, said “Speed management is the only feasible solution within the Decade of Action for Road Safety, and it’s rapidly implementable. We have simple, inexpensive solutions like speed humps that work.”

The panel, moderated by Marc Shotten, Chair of the UN Road Safety Collaboration Working Group on Road Safety Management and Program Manager GRSF, highlighted the role of various sectors in contributing to research and implementation of speed management. Erin Sauber-Schatz, Team Lead/Epidemiologist, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at CDC, discussed research showing that low-cost, high-impact infrastructure changes can help reduce speeds and save lives. For example, the CDC evaluated road safety NGO AMEND’s School Area Road Safety Assessments and Improvement (SARSAI) project, and found that traffic calming measures such as speed humps and zebra crossings were effective in significantly reducing speed and injuries, making SARSAI the first road safety programme proven to reduce road traffic injuries among children in sub-Saharan Africa. Such interventions can increase school attendance, and children’s health outcomes.

The link between quantifiable health outcomes and road safety interventions is the focus of the Road Safety Calculator, presented by panelist Kavi Bhalla, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Chicago. The calculator, designed collaboratively with the health and transportation sectors, will help elucidate the relationship between road safety and health outcomes.

Speed management interventions targeting the most vulnerable population around the world, youth, was the focus of a presentation by Natalie Draisin, North American Manager and UN Representative of the FIA Foundation. “This week, our Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility launched the Speed Vaccine Campaign to urge key players in road safety, including the World Bank, to ensure that all roads and streets used by children have traffic speed limits, sidewalks, and crossings that are safe for children. We are delighted that the World Bank is working to strengthen road safety safeguards to include a heightened focus on speed management.”