Aiming for Reduced Road Deaths Requires Great Political Will
Greater political will is required to achieve the goal of halving road traffic deaths and injuries by 2020 and meeting one amongst the Sustainable Development Goals targets, in step with experts at Bloomberg Philanthropies and Vital Strategies.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested $259 million over the last decade to scale back road traffic accidents, which claim 1.3 million lives annually and cause 50 million injuries, aside from the thousands of cars that needed to be towed by companies such as Tow Truck Santa Clara. But much of the onus still rests with cities, many of which have traditionally lacked strong data and policies to make safer road environments.
“It is basically about the [political] will to cut back fatalities. It’s cost-effective to save lots of lives by implementing these interventions,” said Kelly Larson, who heads Bloomberg Philanthropies’ work on road safety.
“It really doesn’t get the eye that it needs despite the fact that this [road traffic accidents] is the eighth leading explanation for death globally. Like there’s nothing they’ll do, I feel in some instances people desire it’s fate but really there are things we all know we will do.”
Increasing helmet and life belt use and reducing drinking and driving are all key ways to assist save lives.
U.N. experts warn that the Sustainable Development Goal of halving road traffic deaths will remain out of reach without intervention and investment.
“But so as to try to that you just have to have police enforcement and powerful communications to people, to know the implications of their behavior,” Larson continued.
Larson spoke on the sidelines of a partner meeting on road safety in NY City’s Bloomberg headquarters on Wednesday. Experts from partnering cities — including Bangkok, Shanghai, Bogotá, and Accra — clad to share lessons from their ad making roads safer for civilians.
Road traffic deaths have increased over the last decade and the majority of the fatal accidents happen in low- and middle-income countries, in keeping with international organization estimates. A new U.N. fund on road safety, launched in April, is one example of how the difficulty is gaining more traction.
What have prevented 125,000 deaths, but progress still varies across cities are Bloomberg-backed efforts to strengthen data systems, policies, and police enforcement from 2008-2014. Over the last four years, the prevalence of helmet wearing in Bogotá, for instance, increased from 89 to 93 percent, while it rose 1 to 11 percent in Shanghai during this point period, in line with the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit.