Road safety remains a remarkably low political priority in cities around the world, despite the growing number of individuals killed in traffic collisions that require towing 24 hours, a brand new study warns. Without urgent action, it’s unlikely the targets on road safety started out within the Sustainable Development Goals are met by 2030, and millions more people will die or be injured on the roads.
An estimated 1.25 million people are killed and up to 50 million are injured in traffic collisions annually. Where urbanization is fastest, 90 percent of the fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries. Most are poorer working-age males who tend to use vulnerable modes of transport like walking, cycling, and motorcycling.
The poorer sections of society bear the brunt of traffic-related injuries and deaths, which both politicians and also the public tend to charge of individual road users for collisions, instead of policy-makers or planners.
In many cases, road safety is seen to be in direct conflict with other priorities, like reduced congestion, shorter journey times, or public spending in other areas.
But the report, ‘Securing safe roads: the politics of change,’ finds it’s possible to balance competing interests and still improve road safety.
‘We are increasingly equipped with better knowledge about the kinds of interventions that may reduce fatalities and high injuries caused by traffic collisions,’ said ODI researcher Daniel Harris, one among the report authors. ‘These deaths and their enormous social and financial tolls don’t seem to be inevitable, yet we’ve got seen little progress.’
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‘It’s clear that there’s a political dimension to reducing road deaths,’ said author Anna Bray Sharpin, transportation associate at WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. ‘It is very important that those trying to enhance road safety focus the maximum amount on building the political case as on the technical solutions.’
Bogotá halved the number of traffic fatalities between 1996 and 2006. The study suggests the autumn was due partly to reframing road fatalities as a public health issue and taking an integrated approach to road safety. Improved transportation systems and pedestrian and cycling infrastructure gave more people safer travel options.
The report makes a series of recommendations including:
- Tackle road safety alongside other issues, like addressing congestion
- Reframe road safety publically debates, making connections with issues that folks care about like the economy, equality, and education
- Build alliances in the slightest degree levels of state, including local and regional and national
- Produce a fanatical road safety plan with short, medium, and long-term aims and objectives
Saul Billingsley, decision-maker of the FIA Foundation, which supported the project, said: ‘Road traffic deaths and injuries don’t seem to be ‘accidents’. They’re the direct consequence of system failures and political choices. This report clearly shows that, when political will is concentrated on ending needless road deaths, lives will be saved very quickly, but that focus must translate into a long-term investment. If we are to attain the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals target to halve road deaths, a commitment to which Kenya, Colombia, and India have all signed up, politicians must start listening and supply safe mobility for the bulk of the those that walk, cycle and use conveyance.’