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December 2015

Picking up the Glove on Road Safety

Verónica Raffo's picture
I was part of the World Bank delegation that participated in the 2nd Global High Level Conference on Road Safety, held in Brasilia on November 18-19. 
 
I arrived with high expectations on what this event could mean in terms of re-launching international efforts to fight against this global epidemic that kills 1.25 million people, and maims another 50 million, every year.
 
For the road safety community, the Brasilia conference was a crucial moment to take stock of what has been achieved so far, and rethink the strategy towards the future so the international community can scale up action and funding to meet the UN Decade of Action  targets and the respective SDG targets on road safety.
 
In these first five years of the Decade of Action (2010-2020), the initial objective, namely stabilizing road deaths, has been achieved: global road deaths (per year) have plateaued since 2007, as shown by the WHO latest report. We  should note, however, that among the largest contributors of road deaths (China, India, Brazil, among others) there is significant potential for under-reporting.
 
In any case, we are still far away from the objective at the heart of these international commitments: reducing road deaths by half by the end of the decade.  And we should also note that 90% of these deaths continue to happen in low and middle-income countries, affecting the youngest and most vulnerable.
Streets in Bogota / Photo: Carlos Felipe Pardo, Flickr.

How the Insurance Industry Can Make Our Roads Safer

Karla Gonzalez Carvajal's picture
Road crashes are a global health and development challenge with significant human and economic costs, especially in developing countries. The leading cause of death among people aged 15-29, road crashes kill 1.25 million people every year and injure another 50 million—more deaths than from malaria or tuberculosis. In low and middle-income countries, this is estimated to reduce GDP by 3 to 5%. The United Nations recognized the severity of this challenge by adopting specific road safety targets in the Sustainable Development Goals: to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road crashes by 2020.
 
Photo: Carlos Felipe Pardo

This ambitious target can only be achieved through a concerted effort that involves all major stakeholders: national and local governments, multilateral development banks, bilateral donors, civil society, and the private sector. The latter, a key stakeholder in this agenda, can contribute the knowledge, resources, and innovations that are required to accelerate progress and decisively change existing trends.

The insurance industry is also a key part of this coalition. Already playing an important, if somewhat hidden, role in the road safety agenda, the industry insures almost 1 billion vehicles globally, helping to reduce the costs of road crashes to society and the economy.

Improvements in road safety benefit the public as well as the insurance industry. Broad-based insurance coverage makes sure that health and property costs for victims of road crashes are protected, but it also benefits insurance companies by expanding their market. In the same vein, reducing the number or severity of crashes benefits all of us, while it also reduces the volume of claims to insurance firms.

In fact a huge motivator to create good road safety practices lies in the sense of personal responsibility. A driver who wants to achieve a safe record is far more likely to avoid accidents than a driver who has no care for safety. If insurance is both well designed and implemented, it can have an enormous impact for improving road safety.

​Making Moroccan cities safer and more livable

Vickram Cuttaree's picture
Who hasn’t walked in a city thinking that it was made for individual cars and not people? In many cities, the situation is quite bad, with too many vehicles contributing to congestion and pollution and a visible absence of planning, making walking a perilous adventure.
 
That’s how it is in Morocco. Here’s a few facts that give some food for thought:
  • About 60 percent of Morocco’s population live in cities and that number is expected to increase to 70 percent by 2050.
  • Close to 20 percent of the urban population is considered economically vulnerable, living on less than $2 a day.
  • At the same time, spending on urban transport can represent as much as 20 percent of the poorest household’s income for an inadequate level of service.
  • In 2012, more than 48,000 traffic incidents occurred in Moroccan cities, resulting in 1,350 fatalities and more than 60,000 injuries, with most of the victims being pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
  • More women than men depend on urban transport but women face security concerns along with the threat of sexual harassment. . 
 
Source: The Center for Mediterranean Integration / CODATU, Transitec, CasaTransport


What is less visible though is the pollution and climate impact. Transport is estimated to be contributing approximately 23 percent of total energy-related CO2 emissions. In cities, congestion results in more emission per vehicle-km, and the use of private vehicles instead of public transportation contributes to a high level of emission per passenger-km. Poor planning and weak public transport has led to urban development that contributes to longer commutes for many people and more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The unreliability of public transportation has encouraged the use of mostly fuel-inefficient taxis.

​Lagos’ Bus Rapid Transit System: Decongesting and Depolluting Mega-Cities

Nicolas Peltier-Thiberge's picture
Photo:  Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA)

As Beijing is issuing its first-ever red alert due to record levels of air pollution, it is time for us to reflect on how we can propose cleaner urban transport solutions to large cities in the developing world.
 
The transport sector accounts for 23 percent of energy-related global CO2 emissions, second behind electricity and heat generation. Moreover, transport-related emissions are set to rise from 23 percent to up to 33 percent by 2050.

In Beijing, banning half of the car off the streets (except electric and hybrid vehicles) is one of the most radical measures that the authorities have taken to fight what some observers have called airpocalypse. To compensate, 200 additional buses have been added to the cities’ public transport system. Schools have also been closed and outdoor construction works have been forced to stop. The social and economic costs of airpocalypse are enormous. With particulates levels more than 10 times the recommended levels, there are serious health consequences for Beijing’s 20 million inhabitants.
 
As urbanization continues all over the world, many mega-cities are desperately looking for credible solutions to improve urban transport systems and reduce traffic congestion. Sophisticated but expensive systems like underground subways are economically out-of-reach for many large cities in the developing world. The good news is that there are some excellent alternatives that the World Bank Group and other international partners have been promoting.
 
One of these alternatives is the so-called Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Invented in Latin America and since then spread all over the world, BRTs have a particular relevance for fiscally-constrained, developing nations because of their relatively modest cost but also their dramatic benefits in terms of urban mobility and air pollution reduction. 

Access to mobility for slum dwellers with easy low-cost solutions

Jorge Rebelo's picture
Photo: Scott Wallace / World Bank


If we had a magic wand to quickly ease the daily commute of millions of people from home-to-work, particularly in developing countries, we would certainly use it as much as we could.  Unfortunately, we often struggle to find quick solutions and end up with big projects which take very long to come to fruition.

Although big projects are often justified for economic efficiencies and greater impact, aren’t there any solutions that might quickly make that daily commute more accessible, affordable and acceptable?  Note that accessibility is just one of the factors that make travel easier to reach jobs, education, health and leisure facilities. Transport also must be affordable to low-income users  and also frequent and acceptable in the sense of comfort and safety. This is not the case in many poor emerging countries where daily commute can be an ordeal that might affect the productivity of workers who must worry to get to their jobs and return home safely.