Improving global road safety is now linked with the broader vision of sustainable development and priorities addressing the rights of the child, public health, poverty reduction and social inclusion, and occupational health and safety.
Following five successive UN resolutions on ‘Improving road safety’ since 2004, the UN Rio Conference of world leaders highlighted in discussion of the Future We Want (UN, 2012) ‘the importance of the efficient movement of people and goods, and access to environmentally sound, safe and affordable transportation as a means to improve social equity, health, resilience of cities, urban-rural linkages and productivity of rural areas. In this regard, we take into account road safety as a part of our efforts to achieve sustainable development’ (UN, 2012). There are also calls for road safety to be recognised and included in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals framework (Commission for Global Road Safety, 2013; UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, 2014). In national transport policy, safe, clean and affordable mobility goals are set increasingly to realise the associated co-benefits of integrated initiatives (see Box 1.4).
Sources: Bliss and Breen, (2011).
Despite the rapid growth in motorised traffic, the main modes of travel in LMICs are likely to remain walking, motorcycling, cycling and public transport (Kopits & Cropper, 2003). This highlights the importance of planning and providing for the safety needs of these road users (particularly for pedestrians, as the most vulnerable road users), who sustain a high proportion of road traffic injuries, as well as integrating safety into developing road networks for cars, vans, buses, and trucks.
Significant co-benefits can be achieved for the environment and public health. For example, land use and transportation planning, the provision of safer infrastructure facilities to promote increased walking and cycling, and measures to reduce vehicle speeds, will also result in less greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution, greater energy security, and improved physical wellbeing (GRSF, 2009). Other means include reducing the volume of motor vehicle traffic by providing for public transport and pursuing livable city policies; providing efficient networks where the shortest or quickest routes coincide with the safest routes; and encouraging road users and freight to switch from higher risk to lower risk modes of transport (Peden et al., 2004).
In some instances, road safety policy can be in conflict (or be perceived to be in conflict) with other societal needs and policies. However, safe, clean and affordable mobility goals for transport policy provide a means for seeking integrated solutions that address competing societal goals, such as public health (Peden et al., 2004), the right of the child and citizen (see Box 1.5), poverty reductions, social equity priority, occupational health and safety, and educational goals (Watkins & Sridhar, 2009).
1. Everyone has the right to use roads and streets without threats to life or health;
2. Everyone has the right to safe and sustainable mobility: safety and sustainability in road transport should complement each other;
3. Everyone has the right to use the road transport system without unintentionally imposing any threats to life or health on others;
4. Everyone has the right to information about safety problems and the level of safety of any component, product, action or service with the road transport system;
5. Everyone has the right to expect systematic and continuous¬ improvement in safety: any stakeholder within the road transport system has the obligation to undertake corrective actions following the detection of any safety hazard that can be reduced or removed.