By Suzanne Tisserand
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Status Report on road safety, road and traffic incidents are among the leading causes of death and disability globally with over 1.25 million people affected. The same report reveals that today, road accidents are the primary factor of death within the 15-29 age group while 90% of all road traffic deaths worldwide occur in lower- middle- income countries (LMICs).
On July 14th, 2017, Permanent Representatives of several countries including Czech Republic, Brazil, Georgia and the Sultanate of Oman gathered at a luncheon with Executives from the FIA Foundation and other partner organizations such as UNICEF and WHO.
Co-hosted by the Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility and the G4 Alliance, this event was dedicated to promote the work of the United Nations on road safety and sustainable mobility in the effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals agenda by 2030.
The gathering was a side-event for the High Level Political Forum – an annual meeting dedicated to follow-up on the implementation of the SDGs – currently taking place at the New-York Headquarters from July 10th to 19th.
Safe roads and Safe surgery are two key aspects of achieving SDG 3, which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. To reach this objective, thirteen specific targets were set in 2015, including the global reduction of mortality from road traffic incidents by 50% by 2020.
“This is a public health emergency” – said Saul Billingsley, executive Director at FIA Foundation, in his opening remarks. Figures show that road traffic incidents put a burden on health systems and trigger important financial costs for national economies. Without investment in surgical systems, losses in economic productivity in LMICs will total 12.3 trillion USD by 2030, presenting a financial cost of about 3 to 5% of these countries GDP.
Mr. Billingsley recalled that it is now in the hands of governments to act on their commitment by engaging in political advocacy and cross-sector collaboration to achieve the ambitious target of halving road deaths and disabilities by 2020.
Effectively improving road safety in the long-term calls for an integrative approach as mentioned by Jean Todt, former rally co-driver, President of the FIA Foundation and UN Special Envoy for Road Safety. In his addresses to the audience, he emphasized the importance of including road safety as a key consideration in urban planning and infrastructure design, focusing on vulnerable road users and promoting clean air as well as active lifestyle:
“What if we promote active mobility; we will see more bicycles and walking, thus decrease air pollution and improve physical health. In the long term, improve road safety with new infrastructures that are put in place to support the global shift” he explained, “the vision is a future of green, fair, healthy and safe mobility for all”.