Next steps for road safety in developing countries

Posted on January 29th, 2016 by James Luckhurst

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Officials from the World Bank say developing countries can make big gains in improving road safety with more funding and co-ordination to scale up interventions that deliver proven results. Led by managing director Bertrand Badré and senior director Pierre Guislain, a World Bank delegation took part in the recent 2nd Global High Level Conference on Road Safety in Brasilia.

They discussed how best to scale up action, funding, and overall impact so that the poorest countries can see more progress.

The latest Global Status Report on Road Safety estimates that road deaths have levelled off since 2007. But they remain unacceptably high, at 1.25 million deaths and 50 million injuries a year. This is more deaths than from malaria or tuberculosis; and if trends continue, the number of traffic-related deaths could surpass those from HIV-AIDS by 2020.

Road injuries are the leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 29. Deaths and injuries in low- and middle-income countries are estimated to reduce GDP by 3 to 5%, often affecting the poorest. Since 2010, low-income countries have had higher average road deaths than middle-income countries.

Africa remains the region with the highest death rates as of 2013, at 52% above the global average. All other regions reported a lower rate in 2013, the last year for which data is available.

“Both the public and private sectors need to step up efforts to meet the Global Goals’ ambitious target for 2020: reducing by half the number of road-related deaths” said Bertrand Badré. “We must shift from stabilising to dramatically reducing road deaths. This will require more commitment, scaled-up action, and dedicated funding.”

Over the past 10 years, the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) has promoted global knowledge sharing and multi-sectoral interventions with support from the UK, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the FIA Foundation. All World Bank road projects today include a safety component, and its lending targeted at road safety has increased more than 300%.  The focus includes road safety design and infrastructure, institutional capacity, legislation, policing and enforcement, behaviour change by motorists and pedestrians, as well as safer cars and effective post-crash response.