India meeting moves UN regulations closer to Asian reality

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The UN’s Andrey Vasilyev and NHTSA’s Jeff Michael listen intently to a speaker in the opening session.
The UN’s Andrey Vasilyev and NHTSA’s Jeff Michael listen intently to a speaker in the opening session.
Participants included the WHO Director for India.
Participants included the WHO Director for India.
FIA Foundation’s Saul Billingsley with Sarika Panda of WRI India.
FIA Foundation’s Saul Billingsley with Sarika Panda of WRI India.
IRTE’s President Rohit Baluja supports the #EveryLife campaign for child rights.
IRTE’s President Rohit Baluja supports the #EveryLife campaign for child rights.

The FIA Foundation has joined the US National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, the UN Economic Commission for Europe and the Indian Ministry of Transport in sponsoring a conference to review UN traffic regulations in an effort to make them more relevant for the realities on the ground in South Asia.

The conference on Safety of Vulnerable Road Users was attended by governments from across South East Asia and aimed to adapt UNECE’s road regulations to be more relevant to the traffic situations of Asian countries, recognising the large numbers of both pedestrians and motorcyclists in the region. The conference was addressed by India’s Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari; the Deputy Executive Secretary of UNECE, Andrey Vasilyev; Jeff Michael, Associate Administrator of NHTSA; and Saul Billingsley, Executive Director of the FIA Foundation. The conference was held at the College of Traffic Management in Faridabad, hosted by Rohit Baluja, President of the Indian Institute for Road Traffic Education.

Participants shared experience and data, and discussed the application of UN-ECE traffic rules and how these might be best adapted to suit the particular circumstances of the region. Asia accounts for almost two thirds of the world’s road traffic deaths, and despite dramatic motorisation large inequities in wealth mean many of the most vulnerable road users are non-motorised. Action to improve road design, signage and accessibility for pedestrians is vital. The conclusions of the conference will be used to develop guidelines which will be discussed by governments at the UNECE Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP1) in 2018.

During the conference the FIA Foundation also hosted a session with Child Health Initiative partners to discuss wider issues of urban design, air quality (the meeting coincided with Delhi’s worst ever smog emergency) and tackling road safety as a public health issue. Speakers from the World Resources Institute India, the Delhi-based Centre for Science & Environment and the Korean Transport Institute took part, with a focus on achieving the New Urban Agenda objective of a safe and healthy journey to school for every child.

Also at the conference a new forensic investigation laboratory was formally inaugurated by Saul Billingsley and the Chair of the Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety, Luciana Iorio, The FIA Foundation is funding the establishment of a new Masters of Science course in Forensic Investigation of Road Traffic Collisions at the College of Traffic Management. The Foundation’s grant has kitted out the forensic laboratory at the College, and helped to underwrite the first year of the course, which will see 30 students trained in crash investigation.