Launching a Decade of Action for Road Safety
Publication date: 02 May 2011
Every six seconds someone is killed or injured in a road accident. Every day 3,500 people are killed in road crashes. Every year 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads. And unless urgent action is taken, the UN predicts that annual road deaths will rise to 1.9 million by 2020.
These shocking statistics highlight the need to act now on road safety. For this reason, the UN has declared 2011-2020 the ‘UN Decade of Action for Road Safety’. The goal of the decade, endorsed by 100 governments, is to “stabilise and then reduce global road fatalities by 2020” which would require an approximate 50% reduction in forecast road fatalities over the next decade. In real terms, this could mean 5 million lives saved and 50 million injuries prevented.
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), as a long-time key actor on road safety, is supporting the global initiative which is divided into five separate pillars:
1. Building road safety management capacity
2. Upgrading the safety of road infrastructure
3. Further developing the safety of vehicles
4. Enhancing the behaviour of road users
5. Improving emergency services
The FIA’s Region I office, representing over 100 motoring and touring clubs across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, will be organising and supporting events throughout the region (see side table) for the launch of the Decade on 11th May, and the FIA has set up its own campaign “Action for Road Safety” with a dedicated site: www.actionforroadsafety.org. Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher, has already offered his support for the Decade of Action and will speak at a reception organised by the eSafety Challenge project (supported by the European Commission, eSafetyAware, FIA, and the FIA Foundation) in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, will be hosting the event.
As policymakers and end-users are often unaware of the potential of eSafety systems to make our roads less dangerous, Jacob Bangsgaard, Director General of FIA Region I, says the goal of the eSafety Challenge project, funded by the European Commission, is to promote the deployment and use of Intelligent Vehicle Systems to enhance road safety in Europe - priorities which fall under the Decade of Action’s third pillar on safe cars: “eSafety systems can make a significant impact towards making our roads safer, for example, it has been estimated that for Electronic Stability Control (ESC) alone, 4,000 lives could be saved in Europe and more than 100,000 injuries prevented if fitted to all cars. The goal is to raise awareness about road safety, which is important to ensure policy support, to meet user expectations and help with the adoption of new technologies.”
The FIA advocates the ‘Safe System’ approach, says Mr Bangsgaard, explaining, “The approach seeks to focus on the following three interacting elements: the road user, the vehicle and the road infrastructure. Safe systems recognise that humans make mistakes, errors of judgment and poor driving decisions. Safety can be built into the system so that, as in motor sport, crash frequency and severity are minimised.”
There are many good reasons to act on road safety (see side box) but the Decade of Action will focus on the following three key messages:
1. Road traffic injuries are a pressing global health and development concern
Approximately 90% of road traffic deaths and injuries occur in low-income and middle-income countries. Globally, road traffic crashes have become the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years, while nearly half of those dying on the world's roads are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Millions more people are injured and often remain disabled for life. In addition to the grief and suffering they cause, road traffic crashes result in considerable economic losses to victims, their families, and nations as a whole, costing most countries 1%–3% of their gross national product. This figure can reach as high as 5% for some countries.
2. Road traffic injuries can be prevented
Countries which have made the greatest gains in road safety have done so by involving all relevant sectors of society. Comprehensive legislation and enforcement around key factors such as drinking and driving, speeding and wearing seat-belts and helmets; safe roads and vehicles; and an effective emergency care system are key ingredients to success. eSafety systems like Electronic Stability Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Support Systems, Speed Alerts, Warning and Emergency Braking Systems, and Adaptive Headlights can save lives by tackling the root cause of the most common accidents. Improvements can be made in every country of the world in order to avoid these tragic deaths and injuries.
3. The Decade of Action for Road Safety is an opportunity to save millions of lives
The Decade of Action provides a framework to countries and communities to increase action to save lives on the world's roads (see UN Action Plan in side box). Governments, international agencies, civil society organizations, the private sector and other stakeholders should be engaged to raise awareness about the goals of the Decade and promote the use of eSafety technologies in vehicles.
For more details on the Decade of Action and a full calendar of activities planned around the world, please go to: http://www.decadeofaction.org.
Later this month, Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel will attend the eSafety Challenge event on 31st of May in Vienna, where he will demonstrate eSafety technologies and how they can help to prevent accidents on the roads. Please find more details here.