Halving the number of road crash fatalities and injuries by year 2020 is a huge challenge, which is why the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) along with the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) recently held the 9th Road Safety in Asia Conference.
On May 24-26, 2016, the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP), represented by AAP Advocacies Executive Assistant Cynthia Reyes, attended the three-day event held in Beijing, China.
Over 200 delegates from different countries in the Asia-Pacific region participated in the conference.
According to Reyes, “Road safety as a public health issue remains to be a concern and was the highlight of the conference.”
She referred to the Health Dialogue of the World Health Organization (WHO), which included United Nations Global Road Safety Ambassador Michelle Yeoh among the panelists.
Reyes said that Yeoh started the Global Helmet Vaccine Initiative when she became the UN Ambassador for Road Safety.
The AAP representative quoted Yeoh as saying that road safety became personal to her after she found out that over 500 children die on the road every day.
Reyes said the current global road safety statistics show that most of those who die on the road are between 15-29 years old and live in middle- to low-income countries.
Reyes also quoted Yeoh’s co-panelist Dr. Peter Choong from Saint Vincent’s Department of Surgery in Australia as saying, “Accidents must never happen. It can be prevented. It is an unnecessary thing to happen.”
During the panel discussion, the accomplishments so far of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety were presented.
Reyes learned that 59 countries worldwide have comprehensive urban speed laws, 33 of which are in Asia.
Of the 89 countries with an anti-drunk driving law, 24 are in Asia.
Ninety countries have a motorcycle helmet law, 35 of which are in Asia.
Apart from the featured Health Dialogue, the conference held workshops addressing challenges for communities, cities, companies and countries.
“Most of the issues tackled in the conference are almost the same problems as we have in the Philippines when it comes to road safety,” Reyes reported. “The only difference is that in countries such as China, they have data gathering systems that are better and more efficient than ours.”
However, even with such issues, the AAP Advocacies executive assistant noted the Philippines is not lagging behind in implementing road safety programs.
“There is a Safer Roads Investment Plan providing details of cost-effective road safety countermeasures that would further reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries along selected corridors in the country,” she said. “These corridors are determined by the Department of Public Works and Highways.”
The conference concluded that “Coordination and cooperation between civil society, government and the corporate world is necessary to attain our goal of reducing road deaths to half by 2020,” Reyes said.