MEXICO CITY, Mexico – The Inter-American Development Bank today participated in launching the first Decade of Action for Road Safety that the World Health Organization is carrying out with the objective of saving 350,000 lives in Latin America and the Caribbean between 2011 and 2020. The initiative seeks to prevent deaths and injuries from traffic accidents, which claim millions of lives worldwide, mainly of young people aged 15 to 29.
The economic cost of these road accidents and injuries is estimated at between 1 percent and 3 percent of the countries’ gross domestic product. These costs include health insurance, pensions, logistics, and lost productivity, among others.
The IDB announced that it will work with a variety of stakeholders to mobilize resources and carry out measures required to cut numbers of deaths from accidents in the region by 50 percent. According to the Global Road Safety Facility, the 130,000 deaths projected for 2020 would be reduced to 65,000; as such, 350,000 lives would be saved over the 10-year period.
The Bank is working closely with governments to design and implement plans and strategies for road safety. It is also participating with other multilateral development banks to join forces and mobilize resources and establishing partnerships with private entities.
"In addition to resources, a joint effort that involves not only governments, multilateral banks, and traditional donors, but also the private sector is required to achieve the goal of a 50 percent reduction in victims of road accidents," said Julie T. Katzman, the IDB’s Executive Vice President. "We must invest in road safety solutions not only to reduce the terrible human cost of this tragedy, but also because it is cost effective," she said.
Katzman and Cecilia Ramos, IDB Executive Director for Mexico, are participating in road safety events taking place in Mexico City under the auspices of the Minister of Health and Transport. Mexico is hosting the launch of the Decade of Action in Latin America. Similar events are taking place simultaneously in different parts of the world."
The IDB is promoting a more comprehensive and multisectoral approach for addressing road safety problems in the region through links among the transport, health, education, and finance sectors," said Ramos during the launch event.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, traffic accidents claimed the lives of 100,000 people in 2010. If no action is taken, the region will have the highest rate traffic fatalities by 2020―17 to 31 deaths per 100,000 population, which is nearly four times the rate in developed countries.
Unlike in most developed countries, about half of the people in Latin America who die in road accidents are not the drivers, but rather pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, who are usually known as vulnerable users.
The IDB and Road Safety
The IDB’s first regional road safety project is being carried out on a 3,200-km highway in the Pacific Corridor between Mexico and Panama. In the project’s first stage, an audit of the road’s condition was performed. The results will be presented to transport and health authorities participating in road safety week in Mexico.
Given the impact of accidents on the younger population, the IDB together with Sesame Street and the International Automobile Foundation (FIA) today launched an awareness campaign on road safety for children and parents that consists of TV spots that will air in several countries in the region. This is in addition to the campaign that the IDB is carrying out with MTV to encourage youth to be responsible road users.
Also with FIA, the IDB has developed the New Car Assessment Program (LatinNCAP), which evaluates the safety of the most popular cars sold in Latin America to ensure they meet the same standards for vehicles sold in the developed countries.
In Haiti, where the IDB is the main donor in the transport sector, a road safety campaign will be launched to raise awareness about the risk of accidents. A grant from the firm 3M will be used to improve signage on key sections of Haiti’s principal highway. The IDB is preparing a training program on road safety for public authorities with a donation from the Republic of Korea, based on best practices from Korea and Asia.
The IDB last year approved about $1.3 billion in funding for transportation projects and urban transportation. Between 5 percent and 7 percent of these resources were allocated to road safety. Safety is a key element in all IDB investments, which aim to strengthen the capacity of borrowing countries to manage their transport systems and improve the design of highway infrastructure to prevent accidents.