During a meeting of Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Programme partners in Leon, Mexico, the head of the road police expressed concern regarding the robust enforcement of road safety policies for fear of a public backlash. He specifically requested the partners engage in public awareness raising and other activities to raise public understanding and support for the policies so that his police would be more comfortable enforcing such.
Over the last couple of months, GRSP has been working with the Mexican Red Cross in the state of Guanajuato to establish a partnership between them and the road police. In May, that partnership began in earnest. For the foreseeable future, Mexican Red Cross volunteers will be present at police alcohol checkpoints over weekends. The Mexican Red Cross is very highly regarded within the community and their presence will add credibility at the checkpoints and lend support to the work of the police.
To give an illustration of the partnership, here are three incidents which occurred over just one weekend:
- A man tested positive for alcohol and claimed he was out because his daughter had been stung by a scorpion. Mexican Red Cross volunteers examined the daughter, concluded that this wasn’t true, and the police issued a ticket.
- A minor tested positive but had a seizure at the scene. Mexican Red Cross volunteers stabilized him.
- A drunk driver ran over an officer whilst trying to flee the checkpoint. Mexican Red Cross volunteers tended to the officer’s injuries, which fortunately were not severe. The offender was caught two blocks away.
It is known that robust enforcement leads to better behaviour on the roads because drivers realize that penalties are inevitable. For enhanced effectiveness, many aspects of road safety work require strong partnerships between the public sector, private sector and civil society. This new partnership is a fine example of this and we look forward to seeing positive results in terms of lower road traffic injuries and deaths in Leon.