On February 13 and 14, 2013, road safety specialists from Iran, Germany, UK, Italy, Lebanon, Turkey, India and Australia, amongst others, met for the ‘Second Razavi International Congress on Road Safety’ in the city of Mashhad, Iran.
In collaboration with WHO – EMRO, the event was organized by the Razavi Hospital, one of the country’s most respected scientific institutions. The objective of the congress, as stated by Dr. Ali Gorgi, Director of the Razavi Neuroscience Research Centre, was to “Develop mutual relations among those who are active in this field to prevent injuries and save lives”.
Whilst recognizing that zero fatalities on our roads cannot be achieved through technology alone, specialists used the opportunity to debate questions relating to the role of new technologies and advanced safety features such as driver assistance, adaptive headlights, blind spot detection, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.
The debate also focused on the need for common definitions of injury, severity and outcome in harmonized crash data given that existing differences restrict the value of benchmarking and monitoring global progress in road safety performance.
After looking at the state of the UN Decade of Action, the state of road safety in the region was examined. Presenting the overall picture in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Dr. Hala Sakr Ali (Regional Focal Point for Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean) asked poignantly, “If some countries have succeeded in significantly reducing their road traffic fatalities, why can’t we?”.
Indeed, from rating second worldwide in the rate of road crash fatalities, the region has disturbingly moved to be on equal standing with Africa in top placing. Moreover, it is the only region where road traffic fatality rates are higher in high income countries than in low and middle income countries.
In Iran however, the situation is more positive. Responding to Decade recommendations including the adoption of a new traffic law, a 10 year strategic plan, enhanced enforcement and community awareness raising activities, the Iranians have reduced by 13.7% their road traffic fatalities, compared year on year 2011-2012 versus 2010-2011 – an immensely positive and encouraging sign for the country.
GRSP was represented at the congress by Filiz Hosukoglu (Turkey Coordinator) and Thalia Rahme (MENA Communication Officer) who spoke about the success of the seat-belt programme in Turkey and on the elements that make a road safety campaign successful.
Pictured: Dr. Hala Sakr Ali, Regional Focal Point for Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.