May 12, 2011

A Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020

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With nearly 1.4 million people killed each year, road traffic fatalities are a major international public health and development crisis.  This week marks the launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, a global effort led by the United Nations and the World Health Organization to save 5 million lives over a ten year period.

Given the higher density of both traffic and people, cities account for almost 2/3 of all global road casualties.  Recent trends in urbanization and population growth will exacerbate this trend and make this a pressing global problem.  If roads are not made safer, traffic crashes could double by 2030, totaling 2.1 million, and surpass HIV/AIDS as the fifth leading cause of death world-wide.

The Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, created with input from partner worldwide, describes both a framework and lists specific initiatives being taken in countries around the globe to reduce traffic fatalities, injuries and disabilities.  Many countries have used this planning process to set their national road safety goals and strengthen policies. “Today countries and communities are taking action vital to saving lives on our streets and highways” said WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Road traffic crashes are a growing health and development concern affecting all nations, and the Decade offers a framework for an intensified response.”

The Plan is broken into categories including: building road safety management capacity; improving the safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks; further developing the safety of vehicles; enhancing the behavior of road users; and improving post-crash care.

The developing world, where ITDP works, accounts for 90% of all traffic fatalities. ITDP strives to increase road safety with every project we work on. For example, in Southeast Asia, including India and Indonesia, road traffic accidents are the second highest cause of death in the region, accounting for 18% of all injuries or fatalities- almost all of those fatalities come from India alone. Creating cost and time efficient alternatives to motor vehicle use, like Ahmedabad’s Janmarg BRTS, not only takes private vehicles off the road but provides an opportunity to redesign intersections, making them safer for pedestrians and cyclists and sometimes putting in traffic calming– all of which add up to increase road safety for all.

In Indonesia, 63% of road deaths are due to 2 & 3 wheeler motorists – as mass transit improves and becomes as regular and efficient as private transportation, there is the potential to significantly reduce this number and save numerous lives.

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ITDP’s work with TransJakarta does just this – the system has already taken almost 7,000 private vehicles off the road and with the expansion of the system, to a total of 15 corridors by 2012, it is likely more will abandon their private transport in favor of the BRT.  In addition, new sidewalks and improved pedestrian bridges were built alongside the corridor, allowing for safer pedestrian activity and converting short distance motor vehicle trips to ones that could be done by walking. The expansion of the system has plans for extended pedestrian walkways along the corridors and better intersection planning to increase road safety and ease congestion-related accidents and injuries.

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For more projects that help make the roads safer for all, check out our projects in Argentina, China, Brazil, Mexico, and India.

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