Dhaka, Bangladesh
Global Road Safety Week 2019

Comments & Analyses-II

Global Road Safety Week 2019

By Sadrul Hasan Mazumder

The 5th UN Global Road Safety Week is being celebrated across the world with the theme “#SpeakUp to Save Lives”. To achieve the road safety targets, including SDG target 3.6 to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% by 2020 and SDG target 11.2 to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all by 2030, it is required to have enlightened leaders capable to providing a vision of what the future might look like. This theme “#SpeakUp to Save Lives” calls for higher demand for strong leadership for road safety in governments, UN agencies, and civil societies, and immediate actions are needed to protect lives. The celebration of the week has been an inspiration for NGOs, foundations, schools, and universities to resolutely implement the education and meaningful intervention in road safety. According to WHO, nearly 1.3 million people die in road traffic crash – which averages as more than 3000 deaths every day. Of these, nearly 400,000 young people under the age of 25 are killed. Millions more are injured or disabled. Road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among young people globally. In Bangladesh, there are debates on the actual number of road crash statistics though deaths and damages of properties caused by road crashes have become a daily and deadly phenomenon in Bangladesh, which has one of the worst crash rates in the world, at more than 60 per 10,000 registered motor vehicles. Study and researches show multifaceted causes of road crash ranging from population explosion, unplanned urbanization, and tremendous growth of motorized as well as non-motorized and para-transit vehicles, which include but not limited to the engineering aspect of road construction, architecture of vehicles accelerated by mismanagement of the entire transport sector. United Nations launched the Road Safety Strategy, which aims to meet the road safety targets in the Sustainable Development Goals early this year. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011-2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety, holding goals to reduce injuries and fatalities caused by road traffic at local, national and international levels. In line with SDG3: Good Health and Well-being, and SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, the United Nations call for leadership in every community and institution to provide advocacy and technical assistant to ensure the implementation of Road Safety Strategy. The goal is to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020. The target to save lives is indeed very ambitious but not un-achievable with everyone taking the responsibility to support it. The #SpeakUp campaign, designed for this year’s Road Safety Week, aligns to the principles of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. It advocates for a more comprehensive education of the risk on the road as well as traffic regulations and encourages all of us to start to demand road safety interventions that are evident-based and are proven to work. Focused on providing an opportunity for civil society to generate demands for strong leadership for road safety, especially around concrete, evidence-based interventions, which will save lives observance of the road safety week. This year the campaign has been designed to inspire leaders to take action by showcasing examples of strong leadership for road safety within governments, international agencies, NGOs, foundations, schools and universities, and private companies, among others. Road Safety Week has been kicked off just after the sixth global meeting of NGOs advocating for road safety held during 9-13th April 2019. Around 270 road safety activists from across the continents attending the global meeting observed that despite notable progress in raising road safety to the global agenda, road crashes are now estimated to kill around 1.35 million people every year and have become the leading cause of death among young people aged between five and 29 years old, according to the latest Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018. Although the burden is universal, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are hit the hardest, with over 90% of all deaths occurring in these countries. The activists also raised their concern that despite global commitments, these have not translated into national action and that the Decade of Action and the road safety SDG 3.6 both expire in 2020 with no global commitments in place yet to continue the crucial fight against road deaths beyond this date. Road crash, which is caused by human or mechanical failure, negligence, or a combination of many other unknown factors should be dealt with the principles of prevention, attention, and compensation. Thus right way the Road Safety Week this year has targeted primarily at civil society organizations and policy-makers in charge of road safety designed to explore the risk people face on their daily travels – tagged as “this is my journey”; the demands they generate based on these risks – tagged as “this is my demand”; and the ways that forceful and compelling leaders can work with them to address these demands – tagged as “this is our solution”. These would reflect in actions to improve road safety management; make roads, vehicles and road users safer; and enhance emergency and trauma care following a crash. In any human attempt to reduce fatalities of a road crash, proper legislation and effective enforcement are a must. During the pre-crash period, prevention and attention are associated with the capacity and skill of all concerned where we do not have sufficient institutional arrangement. Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), which should take the lead in managing road crash issues clearly lack of capacity and skill and are not equipped enough to handle the current demand. In Bangladesh, Road Safety Panel has been formulated comprises of influential and policymakers, which has prepared 111 recommendations including creation of “road safety authority” under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister. The set of recommendations include provision for creating social awareness, enhancing skills of drivers including the adoption of disciplinary arrangements, improving Infrastructure and developing a monitoring system to oversee the safety issues.

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