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12 May, 2011

Travel Industry Can Join Global Campaign To Cut Millions of Road Fatalities

Resort islands worldwide are perfectly placed to join the global Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 launched on May 11 to reduce the estimated 1.18 million fatal road accidents that occur globally every year, many of them involving drunken, motorcycle-riding tourists.

Road accidents in the travel & tourism industry kill or injured thousands of people – staff travelling to work, coach accidents, and many more. Imagine if these casualties were taking place in the aviation sector or becoming the victims of terrorism.

The UN has proclaimed 2011–2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety, with a goal of stabilising and reducing the forecasted level of global road fatalities by increasing activities conducted at national, regional and global levels. An Action Plan is being coordinated by the World Health Organization and the UN regional commissions, in cooperation with the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration and other stakeholders.

The Plan is intended as a guiding document for countries, as well as a tool to support the development of national and local plans of action. It seeks the support of civil society and private companies to join the effort.

According to the research, each year nearly 1.3 million people die as a result of a road traffic collision — more than 3,000 deaths each day—and more than half of these people are not travelling in a car. Twenty to fifty million more people sustain non-fatal injuries from a collision, and these injuries are an important cause of disability worldwide.

Ninety percent of road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, which claim less than half the world’s registered vehicle fleet. Road traffic injuries are among the three leading causes of death for people between 5 and 44 years of age.

Says the plan, “Unless immediate and effective action is taken, road traffic injuries are predicted to become the fifth leading cause of death in the world, resulting in an estimated 2.4 million deaths each year. This is, in part, a result of rapid increases in motorization without sufficient improvement in road safety strategies and land use planning.

“The economic consequences of motor vehicle crashes have been estimated between 1% and 3% of the respective GNP of the world countries, reaching a total over $500 billion. Reducing road casualties and fatalities will reduce suffering, unlock growth and free resources for more productive use.

“Activities taken as part of a Decade of Action for Road Safety will also have an impact on steps taken towards improving systems of sustainable development.”

Goal And Specific Objectives

The overall goal of the Decade will be to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world by 2020. This will be attained through:

•   adhering to and fully implementing the major United Nations road safety related agreements and conventions, and use others as principles for promoting regional ones, as appropriate;

•   developing and implementing sustainable road safety strategies and programmes;

•   setting an ambitious yet feasible target for reduction of road fatalities by 2020 by building on the existing frameworks of regional casualty targets;

•   strengthening the management infrastructure and capacity for technical implementation of road safety activities at the national, regional and global levels;

•   improving the quality of data collection at the national, regional and global levels;

•   monitoring progress and performance on a number of predefined indicators at the national, regional and global levels;

•   encouraging increased funding to road safety and better use of existing resources, including through ensuring a road safety component within road infrastructure projects;

•   building capacities at national, regional and international level to address road safety.

According to the plan, “Experience suggests that an adequately funded lead agency and a national plan or strategy with measureable targets are crucial components of a sustainable response to road safety.

The Time Is Right

Effective interventions include incorporating road safety features into land-use, urban planning and transport planning; designing safer roads and requiring independent road safety audits for new construction projects; improving the safety features of vehicles; promoting public transport; effective speed management by police and through the use of traffic-calming measures; setting and enforcing internationally harmonized laws requiring the use of seat-belts, helmets and child restraints; setting and enforcing blood alcohol concentration limits for drivers; and improving post-crash care for victims of road crashes. Public awareness campaigns also play an important role.

According to the plan, UN legal instruments developed under the auspices of the regional commissions have assisted many countries in developing and enforcing traffic rules and measures; producing safer road vehicles; reducing the risk of collisions with dangerous goods and hazardous materials; and ensuring that only safe and well-maintained vehicles and competent drivers are allowed to participate in traffic.

Even so, it says, current initiatives and levels of investment are inadequate to halt or reverse the predicted rise in road traffic deaths. The United Nations Secretary-General’s 2009 report on the global road safety crisis notes that despite evidence of growing awareness of and commitment to road safety issues, political will and funding levels are far from commensurate with the scale of the problem.

Key partners in global road safety agree that the time is right for accelerated investment in road safety in low-income and middle-income countries, together with the development of sustainable road safety strategies and programmes, which rethink the relationship between roads and people, encourage the use of public transport, and also change approaches to measurement of national progress in transport policy.

Major risk factors are understood, as are effective counter measures to address them. Collaborative structures are in place to bring together key international players, funders, civil society, and there is a funding mechanism to support accelerated investment and activity. Sufficient resources and political will are the key elements still lacking.

The plan says that a Decade of Action would provide a timeframe for action to encourage political and resource commitments both globally and nationally. Donors could use the Decade as a stimulus to integrating road safety into their assistance programmes. Low-income and middle-income countries can use it to accelerate the adoption of effective and cost-effective road safety programmes while high-income countries can use it to make progress in improving their road safety performance as well as to share their experiences and knowledge with others.


IRU Academy Supporting the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety Through Professional Training

Istanbul – Committed to contributing to the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, the training arm of the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the IRU Academy, in cooperation with Beykoz Vocational School of Logistics in Istanbul and the International Transporters Association (UND), today organised an international seminar on “Road Safety and Road Transport Professional Training”, which brought together some 250 delegates representing public authorities, road transport, road safety research experts as well as training industries from 30 countries in Europe, The Balkans, the CIS, the Middle East and Region, and concluded that improving the behaviour of all road users through training is instrumental in effectively improving road safety.

Seminar speakers highlighted that the involvement of commercial vehicles in accidents does not automatically imply their responsibility, as demonstrated by scientific investigations, such as the European Truck Accident Causation (ETAC) study, showing that out of 85% of all accidents caused by human error, 75% were caused by other road users.

Seminar delegates recommended that, to effectively improve road safety, it is necessary to implement a three-step approach as follows:

1.    analysing the main causes of accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles to make informed policy and business decisions;

2.    focusing on the human element by supporting and promoting the training of professional drivers as provided by the IRU Academy and training other road users; and

3.    cooperating with the business community to achieve tangible results.

IRU Secretary General, Martin Marmy, concluded, “For true road transport professionals, every road accident is one too many and the road transport industry is committed to effectively improve road safety by targeting the main cause of accidents involving commercial vehicles. High awareness levels, coupled with the highest levels of training standards such as those provided by the IRU Academy Accredited Training Institutes (ATIs) are key to improve road safety in our profession. However, as other road users share the infrastructure with commercial vehicles, it is the task of public authorities to ensure that their training is also enhanced.”

Head of the IRU Academy, Patrick Philipp, further explained that “the IRU Academy offers to all its Accredited Training Institutes a vast array of specific road transport training modules to ensure that commercial drivers and managers are aware of the best professional practices they must implement to improve road safety while performing their duty. The IRU Academy, which constantly broadens its offer, has just launched an interactive Safe Loading and Cargo Securing Programme, which provides an unrivalled platform for improved training of road transport professionals, and has just released two new checklists on First Aid and Vehicle Checks.”

President of the Beykoz Vocational School of Logistics, Turkey & Chairman of UND board, Ruhi Engin Özmen, concluded that, “UND is successfully implementing all the road safety tools and high standard IRU Academy training programmes, in order to continuously improve our road safety records in Turkey and abroad by increasing professionalism within the road transport sector, thus raising the profile of our industry.”

See the Seminar presentation and speeches

See IRU Action for the UN Decade for Road Safety 2011-2020