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2.2 Road safety as a development priority

Road safety and international development goals

In international development, road safety is being linked with the broader vision of sustainable development through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustiainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are a call to action to end poverty and inequality, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy health, justice and prosperity. Addressing the risk of death and injury in road traffic is fundamental to achieving the SDGs. Within the SDG framework there are two targets that specificially address road safety. However, road safety also has links to many related targets (see Box 2.1)

BOX 2.1: Sustainable development goals for road safety

SDG target 3.6: by 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents.

SDG target 11.2: by 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with the special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, people with disabilities and older people.

Road safety also has links to other related targets such as SDG target I on poverty, SDG target 5 on gender equality, and SDG target 8 on decent work and economic growth.

Source: WHO


The SDGs build on decades of work. In June 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, more than 178 countries adopted a comprehensive plan of action to build a global partnership for sustainable development to improve human lives and protect the environment. Member State unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration at the Millennium Summit in Septemver 2000 which led to the elaboration of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 11 to reduce extreme poverty by 2015 (UN, 2023)

Previously, international development had a narrow focus on income and spending. However, current approaches promote higher living standards for all, with an emphasis on improved health, education and people’s ability to participate in the economy and society. Development seeks to foster an investment climate, which can encourage increased growth, productivity and employment; and to empower and invest in people so that they are included in the process (Stern et al., 2005; Bliss, 2011a).

While no Millennium Development Goal was set for addressing the prevention of deaths and serious injuries in road crashes to 2015, road safety priorities align with other MDGs, particularly for environmental sustainability, public health, and poverty reduction. As the MDGs era came to a conclusion at the end of 2015, the new year ushered in the official launch of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (WHO, 2023). 

  • 1.The eight MDGs range from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education: all by the target date of 2015. They form a blueprint (plan) agreed to by all the world's countries and all the world's leading development institutions (
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