Road traffic crashes are reported to be the second most frequent cause of injury related death in Colombia, according to the World Bank. To combat this and other road safety issues, Bogota is one of the participating cities in the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS).
In April, the BIGRS kicked off with a meeting between the BIGRS partners and Bogota’s Secretariat of Mobility, the Metropolitan Police, and other key agencies, to establish a plan of action and key objectives to improve road safety and reduce the incidence of road related death and injury.
Improving road safety is a critical issue across the country. The scale of the problem has prompted the Colombian government to include road safety in its Quadrennial National Development Plan for the first time ever, incorporating targets for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. This positions road safety as a public policy priority, which will be supported by the newly created National Road Safety Agency.
This is the perfect platform for Bogota to instigate the BIGRS and effect real change to establish a culture of road safety. In a city with a population between 8 and 11 million people, road traffic crashes cause a 1.2% loss in GDP annually—a serious consideration for a city pushing ahead on the emerging cities index.
With only 16 road police per 100,000 people, enforcement of road safety related policies can be challenging. Through the BIGRS, the GRSP will provide technical expertise to build the capabilities of Bogota’s road police. These activities will increase understanding of risk factors, traffic laws and their application, as well as the use of data to guide strategic enforcement.
Over the next 5 years, capacity development activities will enhance the institutional enforcement structure in Bogota; improve evidence based enforcement, drawing on existing infringement, and injury and death data; strengthen the capabilities of Metro Police to enforce the law in relation to drink driving; build the capabilities of Metro Police to enforce helmet wearing; and campaign for behaviour change in relation to drink driving and helmet wearing.
Another critical area of capacity development agreed during the meeting was to improve coordination between agencies with an enforcement role. This coordination will ensure effective collaboration and planning, avoid duplication of effort, and present a consistent message of road safety imperatives to the public.
Complementing enhanced enforcement, hard hitting public education campaigns using both traditional and social media, will seek to increase public understanding of risk factors and road law and promote changed behaviours.
The immediate focus of the partners of the BIGRS in Bogota is to reduce the prevalence of drink driving and improve the rates of helmet wearing in order to work towards the city’s injury and fatality reduction targets.
Partners of the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety include:
- Global New Car Assessment Program
- Global Road Safety Partnership
- Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- National Association of City Transportation Officials
- The Union North America
- The World Bank-led Global Road Safety Facility
- World Health Organization
 http://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/bogota-population/ (18/08/2015); World Health Organization, Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013: Supporting a Decade of Action, Geneva, Switzerland, p. 89.