Road safety has come a long way in our lifetimes and there are steps in this progress that mark their place in history. Many of these were technical innovations, such as seat belts, electronic stability control, and geofencing for vehicle speed control. Also important, though perhaps fewer in number, were innovations in strategies to achieve change. These include the public health model of Dr. William Haddon, the introduction of Vision Zero, the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention from WHO and the World Bank, and more recently, the Decade of Action 2011-2020. I am sure that the work and recommendations presented in this report will deserve their place in a ”Hall of Fame” for strategic innovation in saving lives across the globe.
Our report and recommendations are based on the introduction of 2030 Agenda, often referred to as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the establishment of these Goals in 2015, road safety was explicitly included for the first time as part of the global development agenda, and this heightened recognition gives us a new and unique opportunity to accelerate progress. This recognition puts road traffic safety on the same level of global criticality as climate, health and equity issues, and means that road safety can no longer be traded off in order to promote other needs. Inclusion among the SDGs also means that road safety is the responsibility of a wide range of stakeholders, both public and private. While some might see this as an imposition, I see it as hope and an opportunity to use our knowledge to achieve a vision of mobility without fear for our lives.
In this report, we point out that road safety is a necessity for health, climate, equity and prosperity. If children cannot walk or bicycle to school without risking their lives, we limit their access to education, good health and freedom, and consequently our hope for the future. If we cannot transport goods across a nation or around the world in a safe and sustainable way, we limit the possibility of trade, economic development and elimination of poverty. If our workplaces are not safe, we threaten earnings and the sustainability of families. Elimination of deaths and serious injuries in road traffic is essential to many other sustainability goals in very direct and clear ways. Road traffic safety can no longer develop in isolation.
The SDGs have been widely endorsed and their achievement is now accepted as a central responsibility by governments, corporations and civil society. Expectations for meaningful contributions by these organizations are driving public attitudes and even affecting investment decisions. Sustainability reporting has become a means for organizations to demonstrate their societal value and new tools are needed to help them communicate their contributions in an accurate and transparent way. Cities and corporations can do fantastic things to protect the public and create a more livable environment with improved security, better health and cleaner air.
I am proud to have led a group of internationally recognized road safety thought leaders to formulate the vision, strategy and rationale underlying these recommendations. Capturing the wisdom of these leaders was among the most challenging tasks I have undertaken, but also the most rewarding. The ideas in the report were developed by consensus. Each member of the group made concessions in our personal viewpoints, but gained insight and knowledge from the others. All of us are proud to stand behind the product of our collaboration, and that is in the end what counts!
Professor Claes Tingvall, Chair of the Academic Expert Group