Economic Case For Road Safety

If Nepal doesn’t act to reduce road injuries it might lose seven percent of GDP growth in the next two decades

Many United Nations member countries have extended their interests to recognize road safety as an important issue to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The number of countries with road safety related legislations, policies and strategies have increased. Some have changed the motorcycle helmet laws. Others have supported regulations to reduce speed limits in urban roads. The Global Status Report on Road Safety published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Bloomberg Philanthropies in December 2018 reported that despite the increase in positive developments, the number of deaths on world’s roads remain unacceptably high, with an estimated 1.35 million people dying each year. This despite that many countries have legislations to ensure road safety. For example, 105 countries have laws on seat-belt use (representing 5.3 billion people), 46 countries have laws setting speed limits (representing 3 billion people), 49 countries have laws on motorcycle helmet use (representing 2.7 billion people), 45 countries have drink-driving laws (representing 2.3 billion people) and 35 countries have laws on the use of child restraint systems (representing 0.7 billion people).

Most of these countries, unfortunately, do not represent low- and middle-income economies. Although the number of global deaths has increased from the previous estimate of 1.25 million, the death rate (per 100,000) has now stabilized. Keeping in mind the increased length of roads, increased number of vehicles use and increased population worldwide in the past this stabilization in death rates can be considered as a positive outcome.

Recognize the problems

Fortaleza of Brazil has achieved 32 percent reduction in road traffic deaths in a couple of years through multi-sectoral efforts. This was possible because of the support from local people and strong commitment from Fortaleza’s mayor. 

Yes, getting public support to such work was not easy. But with advocacy and dissemination of messages about the magnitude and consequences of road traffic injuries, they overcame this challenge. It is very important that the society supports our activities, but the support from society is only obtained once they see the change. For this we need to provide information on the magnitude, consequences and come forward with certain action plan. In this regard, working with local academia can be of help.

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