Sibylle Rupprecht, Director General IRF, reports from the 3rd Regional Conference of the International Road Federation held 3-4 October in New Delhi, India
More than 1.2 million deaths and 23 million injuries are caused by road accidents worldwide every year. Of these, India accounts for 10 per cent of fatal accidents. These alarming figures were disclosed by the speakers at the 3rd Regional IRF Conference on ‘Mobility and Safety in Road Transport’ to some 250 engineers and experts who took part in this event. K.H. Muniyappa, Minister of State for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, inaugurated this important conference organised by the Geneva-based International Road Federation.
In the context of massive road development activities in the region, and India in particular, road transport has become more and more attractive over the years. The high demand for mobility brought a substantial growth in motor vehicle ownership, including motorcycles, coupled with poor road user behaviour. This has led to a serious concern about the road safety situation.
The World Health Organisation estimates that worldwide road traffic injuries will move up from 9th position of leading causes of death in 2004 to 5th position by 2030. Thus the current figure of 1.2 million victims is set to double by 2030. Road crashes are the leading cause of death for young people aged 10-24. According to the WHO projections, road crashes will be the leading cause of disability and premature death for children aged five and over in developing countries by 2015.
Road crashes cost developing countries up to $100 billion each year, a figure equivalent to all official overseas aid. About two-thirds of road accidents and one-third of road fatalities occur in urban areas, with pedestrians and cyclists being the most vulnerable road users. Therefore, if we want to save lives, we need to ensure safer infrastructure, safer behaviour, safer vehicles and better enforcement of traffic rules.
The 3rd Regional IRF Conference looked into the following four broad themes: Urban Mobility and Safety; Road Developments and Safety Implications; Management of Mobility and Road Safety; and Institutional and Legislative Capacity for Road Safety.
The conference deliberations and the panel discussion showed a high degree of passion for ensuring mobility in developing countries without compromising on high standards of safety. In the valedictory session, 18 important proposals were elaborated, recognising that actions must include the three E’s (Engineering, Education, and Enforcement).
Mr. K.K. Kapila, Conference Chair and Vice Chairman of IRF, summarised the recommendations as follows:
At the IRF we consider it our duty to look into these problems and to examine solutions that anticipate and deal with traffic accidents in conurbations, to highlight the close links between safety and other objectives, such as multimodality, road sharing and quality of life. We believe that sound mobility management strategies can increase traffic safety significantly, in addition to providing other economic and environmental benefits.