Racing champions Felipe Massa and Emerson Fittipaldi back a strategy to reduce traffic crashes
SÃO PAULO – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Automobile Federation (FIA, after its initials in French) announced their commitment to promoting road safety to help foster social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Both organizations will work closely with civil society and the Brazilian government to promote a culture of safe driving, compliance with traffic laws, investments in safer transport infrastructure, and improved regulations for motor vehicles.
IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and FIA President Jean Todt participated in the Paving the Way to Road Safety conference here with São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, Ceará Governor Cid Gomes, Santa Catarina Governor João Raimundo Colombo, Vice Governor of Minas Gerais Alberto Coelho and São Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab, among other officials. Also attending were representatives of civil society, the private sector, and academia. Participants discussed the challenges of road safety in the region, and particularly in Brazil.
The IDB and FIA emphasized the importance of raising the priority of road safety in Brazil’s political agenda, especially now that the country will be receiving international attention as host for the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.
“We are bolstered by the new emphasis that Brazil’s authorities and civil society are giving to road safety,” said Moreno. “The IDB is ready to support and to fund Brazil’s best proposals for reducing the rate of accidents in the region. I hope that this meeting will enable us to focus on new opportunities for action and collaboration.”
Worldwide, one person dies in a traffic accident every six seconds. In Brazil, the rate of traffic deaths exceeds 20 deaths per 100,000 people per year, well above the average for high-income European countries. “This is not only a Brazilian problem, but one that affects our entire region,” said Moreno. “We must focus on education, develop awareness of the problem, and work together with different sectors to create a real commitment, a commitment on the part of all. Together we can save lives,” he said.
The forum, held in conjunction with the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, promoted discussion among different stakeholders for the purpose of raising the issue’s priority for government and civil society.
Over past years, FIA has been carrying out campaigns to this end, starting with its own motor racing activities. During the conference, FIA President Jean Todt outlined the results of those efforts: “We have reduced serious and deadly crashes in motor sports. Our intention, leveraging our links with governments, the media and the world audience for motor racing, is to achieve the same with everyday drivers.”
In her speech, Michelle Yeoh, actress and global ambassador for the World Road Safety Campaign, said that deaths, injuries, and economic losses caused by accidents cost Brazil some $10.9 billion annually.
"Brazil has the economic power, the political leadership, and especially the innovative spirit to succeed in improving road safety,” said Yeoh. “And we know that governments with the political will to make road safety a priority will reap the social, health and economic benefits of their investments.”
During the conference the IDB signed a loan agreement with the southern Brazilian city of Blumenau for a project to improve road infrastructure. The project’s total investment of $118 million will include safety components, including improved traffic lights, special measures for critical areas, better infrastructure for pedestrians, and driver education campaigns. The project will also provide resources for modernizing traffic control, as well as training for road planners.
The IDB’s Road Safety Strategy
The IDB is committed to the principles of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety. The IDB’s road safety strategy helps the region’s countries by supporting governmentsin strengthening their institutional and technical capacities inroad safety; mobilizing financial resourcesfor government programs; and working with the private sector and the general populationtoraise public awareness of the issue and encourage safe driving.
The IDB and the FIA also promote initiatives to raise safety standards of cars manufactured and sold in Latin America to levels required in the United States and Europe. These efforts also encourage the region’s countries to implement tougher road safety rules to help reduce deaths and accidents on its roads and highways.