This post is part of a series related to the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.
On Wednesday, May 11, 2011, the United Nations will officially launch the Decade of Action for Road Safety, an effort to curb road deaths and ensure road safety by 2020. “Each year 1.3 million people die as a result of a road traffic collision—more than 3,000 deaths each day—and more than half of these people are not traveling in a car,” according to the official document. “Road traffic injuries are among the three leading causes of death for people between 5 and 44 years of age.”
Developing nations are especially affected by the lack of road safety provisions. According to United Nations, “Ninety percent of road traffic deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries, which claim less than half the world’s registered vehicle fleet.” Furthermore, pedestrians and bicyclists are the most vulnerable to traffic collisions, lacking sound infrastructure and policies to protect them and share the right of way.
Here at TheCityFix, we have written many posts on the role of sustainable transportation in improving road safety. In addition to solutions for policies, infrastructure and urban design to reduce and prevent traffic collisions, we also discuss the importance of considering physical activity and air quality as part of a comprehensive approach to public health. EMBARQ, the producer of this blog, is dedicated to improving health and road safety in developing cities, forming partnerships with the Bloomberg Global Road Safety Program, the Pan American Health Organization and the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration.
To celebrate the worldwide effort in stabilizing and reducing road fatalities, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite posts on road safety and sustainable transportation. The following is our round-up of our Top 10 posts on road safety.
In March, Heze City police in the Shandong province of China released accident footage from traffic cameras as a public service announcement to raise awareness for road safety. The video is a set of gruesome and violent images, highlighting the importance of road safety education , infrastructure, proper signage and law enforcement.
In response to then TheCityFix blogger David Daddio’s report on a dangerous intersection at U Street and Florida Avenue in Washington, D.C., the District Department of Transportation’s Aaron Rhones responded with a list of “safety improvements.” The improvements include wording changes on signage, addition of regulatory signs establishing no-left-turn zones and adjustments of pedestrian crossing timings.
In April 2010, the Pan American Health Organization funded EMBARQ (the producer of this blog) to conduct a road safety audit for Arequipa, Peru’s proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor. After a careful examination of the proposed project, EMBARQ recommended increasing visibility at pedestrian crossings through lighting, reducing some roadways to single lane roads and supplying intersections with a signal lighting system at junctions.
In January 2009, the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute released a report on India’s road safety. The report revealed that pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized users account for up to 60 percent of the road fatalities in urban areas, placing them in the most vulnerable category. This percentage only increases in Mumbai and Delhi to 80 percent and 90 percent of road fatalities, respectively. And although the vast majority of the country cannot afford to buy cars, and only 7 out of 100 people own cars, the death rate for India is at 9.5 per 100,000 drivers, a shocking comparison to first world countries where there are seven times more cars but half the road fatalities. In facing such statistics, the report recommends India to focus policies on separating pedestrian and bicycle users from motor vehicles, controlling speed on main arterial roads and calming traffic on all other roads.
Proper signage that establishes the rights of way is an important aspect of road health. In this post, former blogger Victoria Broadus lists the various forms of U.K.-based pedestrian crossing signage and compares their uses in urban environments.
With bike activism gaining popularity, Lima, Peru has a new vested interest in improving safety for all of its road users. In the mid 1990s, The World Bank loaned Peru $200 million to improve road maintenance and mobility for the poor. Though the project did not succeed immediately, the city has taken a new interest in developing a BRT system in Lima and incorporated biking legislation to give priority to cyclists.
In April 2011, the City of Denton in Texas approved a traffic safety ordinance asserting the rights of the road for cyclists and other vulnerable users. The policy, known as the “Vulnerable Road Users” or “Safe Passage” ordinance, requires motorized vehicles to allow a safe passage distance of three feet to non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians.
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the Sesame Street brand, joined the Global Road Safety Partnership to educate children and families about the importance of road safety, Erica Schlaikjer reported in April 2010. Using the familiar faces of its Muppet characters, the Sesame Workshop is targeting children to create positive behavior changes, like wearing seatbelts and helmets.
According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, road fatalities in the U.S. decreased by three percent, despite a 0.7 percent increase in the number of miles Americans drove in the same year. LaHood also announced an 11 percent increase in congestion in the country’s 100 biggest metropolitan areas.
With its notoriously congested roads, India experienced an increase of 40 percent in road deaths, as cited in a 2010 New York Times article, Radha Neelakantan reports. Neelakantan emphasizes the importance of incorporating mass transit options to reduce the number of cars on the road and improve air quality, while taking a critical look at India’s recent road-building spree as part of the National Highways Development Project.