Almost one year in, seminar addresses the challenge ahead
We’ve come a long way — but there’s a long road ahead.
That could be one way of summing up the sentiments of the 230 road-safety experts, practitioners, advocates and senior government officials who gathered at the launch of the fifth annual GRSP Asia Road Safety Seminar in Bangkok, Thailand this week. Designed to stimulate support and action toward goals established by the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety, the annual seminar brings together governments, civil society actors and businesses in a collaborative approach to address the road-crash crisis in Asia.
This year, the focus is on making sure that the promises made during the Decade of Action launch last year will be put into action and that countries are on track to meet the goals they set for themselves. This is one reason the director of GRSP’s Asia Region, Ian Hughes, introduced the seminar with a question:
“We are almost at the end of the first year of the United Nations Decade for Action on Road Safety and we must all ask ourselves: What has been achieved so far to reduce death and injury on our roads? What do we need to do next and how can we best do this?”
“One of the key achievements to date,” he said, “is that many countries have developed a road safety plan and in many of these are aligned with the Global Plan for the Decade of Action.”
Pieter Venter, director of GRSP’s Africa Region, agreed: “One thing that we have achieved globally through the Decade of Action is to unite as a team to support one another. And we are seeing a change already in the management and approach, which lays the foundation for even greater future achievements.”
Now, the key is to build on that progress. The seminar aimed to do just that by giving people in the region a chance to share their successes, learning experiences, and concrete results since the Decade was launched in May last year.
The seminar this year was designed to help participants further align their efforts with the five pillars of the Decade of Action. The seminar presentations and workshops, therefore, focus on road-safety management, development of road-safety action plans, effective and low-cost road improvement, social marketing, changing road-user behaviour, work-related road safety, enhancing vehicle safety and post-crash care, among other topics.
For GRSP, the seminar is also a key part of its capacity building strategy in the region. “In many ways this seminar reflects some of the key contributions that the Global Road Safety Partnership will make to achieving the goals and objectives of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action,” Hughes noted.
While these efforts appear to be paying off, Hughes added that it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that nearly 1.3 million people still die globally as a result of road crashes each year and that up to 50 million more are injured, many suffering serious injuries that result in permanent disability. Furthermore, some 90 per cent of the deaths occur on roads in low and middle-income countries. Asian nations are on the front lines of the global road-crash crisis as their burgeoning economies have led to rapid motorization.
“Without effective action the situation will rapidly grow worse,” he said. “I hope this seminar will provide the opportunity to consider what is needed next and how this can best be done.”
Saul Billingsley, with the FIA Foundation, one of the key partners promoting the Decade of Action goal agreed. He said developing road safety management systems and improving vehicle safety are critical as the number or drivers and cars will continue to skyrocket in coming years. “What has taken the last 100 years to reach in terms of numbers of vehicles on the road will double in the next ten years,” Billingsley said.
The seminar is run in partnership with the Thailand Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) with funding from the Global Road Safety Initiative (GRSI) programme and its partners (Michelin, Renault, Shell, Total and Toyota), iRAP, ThaiHealth and 3M Traffic Safety Systems (seminar dinner sponsor). It will be held for two days, followed by an International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) Workshop on 9 March.
For more information please contact Ian Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org