This week marks the official launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, a worldwide effort declared by the United Nations to save 5 million lives over a 10-year period.
Following is a statement by Claudia Adriazola, director of health and road safety for EMBARQ, highlighting the importance of sustainable transport and urban development in making streets safer:
“Traffic crashes are completely preventable. Creating more sustainable transport can really be two hands clapping on road safety. On one hand, you can reduce and prevent more driving—the real root of car crashes. On the other hand, you can improve safety for the most vulnerable and victimized — pedestrians and bicyclists. When this comes together, it can lead to not just safer cities, but also more humane and pleasant places that foster active lifestyles and cleaner air, saving even more lives and dire economic costs.”
Additional background on global road safety:
Nearly 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads each year, and 50 million more people are injured, with many of them disabled for life. 90 percent of road deaths occur in developing countries. If nothing is done to make roads safer, traffic crashes could double by 2030, overtaking AIDS, tuberculosis and lung cancer as the world’s fifth leading cause of premature death.
Part of the problem is the explosive growth in the number of vehicles — from cars to motorcycles — exacerbated by high speeds and a lack of regulation. Children and young people are the most at risk: Road traffic injuries are the number one cause of death among people aged 10-24 years. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are also especially vulnerable.
The United Nations Road Safety Collaboration and its partners, including EMBARQ, developed the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 to guide activities planned by governments, civil society and the private sector over the next ten years to address the tremendous global burden of traffic-related fatalities and injuries.
One of the key “pillars” of activities outlined in the plan are improving the safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks. This highlights the critical role that cities can play in making streets safer.
EMBARQ’s role in road safety:
EMBARQ — WRI’s center for sustainable transport — currently works to improve health and road safety in Mexico, Brazil, India, Peru and Turkey. At the project level, EMBARQ completes “road safety audits” in cities like Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro to improve the design of bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors before they are constructed. Problems that need to be addressed could include dangerous left turns, insufficient bicycle signage or poor lighting. EMBARQ recommends preventive measures to improve road safety along these corridors, like improving pedestrian crossings or including physical barriers between BRT lanes and car lanes. EMBARQ also evaluates the public health impact of mass transit and bicycling initiatives, measuring levels of traffic crashes, air pollution and physical activity in select cities, such as Arequipa, Peru.
In November 2009, EMBARQ was awarded a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies as part of the Bloomberg Global Road Safety Program, to implement programs in 10 low-and middle-income countries that have a high burden of road traffic injuries and fatalities, representing nearly half (48 percent) of traffic deaths globally. EMBARQ has also formed partnerships with the Pan American Health Organization and the U.N. Road Safety Collaboration.