Live from Transforming Transportation: “Speeding up” global action on road safety
Well-designed bus rapid transit is one way for cities to improve traffic safety. This was one of many strategies described by panelists at Transforming Transportation for how cities can accelerate efforts to improve road safety in the face of rising motorization. Photo by Jamie Manely/Flickr.

Well-designed bus rapid transit is one way for cities to improve traffic safety. This was one of many strategies described by panelists at Transforming Transportation for how cities can accelerate efforts to improve road safety in the face of rising motorization. Photo by Jamie Manely/Flickr.

Transforming Transportation (#TTDC15) is the annual conference co-organized by EMBARQ, the sustainable urban transport arm of the World Resources Institute’s (WRIWRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, and the World Bank. This year’s conference focuses on Smart Cities for Shared Prosperity, and takes place on January 15 and 16, 2015 in Washington, DC. Join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #TTDC15, by following @EMBARQNetwork and @WBG_Transport on Twitter, and tune in to www.transformingtransportation.org for video streaming of select sessions.

Improving traffic safety can help make cities more sustainable, economically viable, and healthy. But more than 1.2 million people die in traffic crashes worldwide, and car ownership is rising around the world. Responding to this challenge, the UN General Assembly declared 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety, and resolved to reduce global traffic fatalities by 2020.

So how are we doing at the mid-point of the Road Safety Decade?

Janette Sadik-Khan, the former commissioner of New York City’s Department of Transportation, said the city now has some of the lowest traffic fatality rates in the United States. “It’s not just because New Yorkers are terribly nice or good drivers… but because of a lot of hard work,” she said in a panel discussion at the Transformation Transportation conference at the World Bank on January 15.

“You can’t wish people onto a bus that is slow and dirty and ugly,” Sadik-Khan said. ”You have to create a beautiful system… These strategies – safe streets and mobility choices – they’re not just nice things to have. They are economic development strategies.”

Graphic by EMBARQ.

Photo by Aaron Minnick/WRI.

Following Sadik-Khan’s presentation, Melinda Crane, chief political correspondent for Deutsche Welle-TV, moderated a panel that consisted of international experts in road safety:

  • Janette Sadik-Khan, Transportation Principal, Bloomberg Associates
  • Claudia Adriazola; Director of Health and Road Safety; WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, WRI
  • Saul Billingsley, Director General, FIA Foundation
  • Mark Stevenson, Director of the Accident Research Centre, Monash University, Australia
  • Deborah Carvalho Malta, Director, Ministry of Health, Brazil
  • Nazir Alli, Chief Executive Officer, South African National Roads Agency
  • Anne-Valérie Troy, Director, Sustainable Development, TOTAL

Claudia Adriazola discussed new research that shows implementing bus priority systems can reduce severe and fatal crashes by 50%. Adriazola, along with other panelists, advocated for a Safe System approach that acknowledges humans are fallible. It focuses on improving planning and road design systems to save lives.

Graphic by EMBARQ.

Graphic by EMBARQ.

Still, traffic safety remains a key challenging in low- and middle-income countries, and it is crucial to build stronger advocacy groups and present to policy makers the wide range of benefits that accompany improvements to traffic safety. EMBARQ, the producer of TheCityFix, has examined traffic safety challenges in cities worldwide, adapting to local context while drawing on global best practices:

Stemming traffic crashes in developing countries is often a matter of “Partnership, partnership, partnership,” according to Anne-Valérie Troy, director of Sustainable Development for TOTAL. Because many parts of Africa lack regulation and technology that would aid this effort, TOTAL has tightened its own standards for trucks operating there. Technology has also helped, she said: computers installed on trucks transporting TOTAL products in Africa monitor vehicle speed. “We can train them or sanction them if they do not respect the standards we impose on our transporters,” Troy said.

Stay tuned for continued coverage of Transforming Transportation tomorrow on TheCityFix! In the meantime, join the conversation online using hashtag #TTDC15 and by following @EMBARQNetwork and @WBG_Transport on Twitter. 

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