Road safety leaders in Latin America to establish interagency group

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Claudia Adriazola, World Resources Institute.
Claudia Adriazola, World Resources Institute.
The meeting brought together a range of agencies and organisations including PAHO, UNICEF, the Inter-American Development Bank and the FIA Foundation.
The meeting brought together a range of agencies and organisations including PAHO, UNICEF, the Inter-American Development Bank and the FIA Foundation.

PAHO and ECLAC have convened organizations improving road safety in Latin America and the Caribbean to create the first regional interagency collaborative mechanism.

From 31 August to 1 September, the Pan American Health Organization and Economic Commission for Latin America hosted the ‘Interagency meeting on the implementation of road safety measures in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ The meeting made strides towards establishing the first interagency collaboration mechanism for road safety efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean, bringing together leaders from UNICEF, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Bank, WHO, Organization of American States, World Resources Institute, FIA Foundation, and others.

Opening the meeting, Dr. Eugenia Rodrigues, Regional Advisor on road safety at PAHO said, “The Latin American region suffers a road fatality rate of 15.9 per 100,000 population, which is higher than North America. Together, we can address this regional inequality.” Speed management and a focus on children were discussed throughout the meeting, as ways to help address this inequality. Dr. Rodrigues pointed out that only five countries in the region have speed laws aligned with WHO best practices, and that better sustainable transport policies, specifically those which include children, are crucial.

The meeting began by identifying actions to strengthen collaboration among road safety agencies. Luisa Brumana, UNICEF Regional Health Advisor, Latin America and the Caribbean, discussed the importance of linking the road safety and health agendas. This link is necessary to reduce road traffic injuries, the leading killer of children over five in developed countries, and over 10 in developing countries. Presenting their joint efforts, FIA Foundation’s North American Director Natalie Draisin said: “The FIA Foundation has been working with UNICEF to implement safe and healthy routes to school in several countries, including Jamaica, Paraguay, and Cuba. These efforts are part of the larger Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility which includes other organizations working in the region, such as the Institute for Transportation Development and Policy, World Resources Institute, and Fundacion Gonzalo Rodriguez. The interagency collaboration mechanism we are discussing here today is important to help promote further dialogue around this effort and others, and to strengthen partnerships to save lives on roads in Latin America.”

The second day, moderated by Natalie Draisin, identified joint actions to support countries to implement road safety interventions. Claudia Adriazola-Steil discussed WRI’s efforts in Bogota, which reduced fatalities through comprehensive policies and speed management. “The success we saw in Bogota reminds us that the power of speed management is that we can save lives now.” Speed management helps protect pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists as well, which together comprise half of fatalities in Latin America, and the world.

The meeting organizers will evaluate input from participants, and propose a collaborative mechanism for review.