UN convenes regional road safety workshop
Jean Todt, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety and regional head of IDB, Therese Turner Jones during this morning's opening session. (Photo: Marlon Reid)
Road safety representatives from agencies across the region are gathered at the Inter-American Development Bank in Kingston for a two-day workshop convened by the United Nations and organised by Jamaica’s Ministry of Transport as well as the National Road Safety Council.
According to Jean Todt, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have set a strong precedent for all relevant stakeholders to scale up efforts towards addressing the global road safety crisis, especially at the national and regional levels.
“With 1.35 million fatalities and 50 million seriously injured every year, it has become one of the world’s most pressing development issues given the multidimensional social and economic consequences.”
looptt Road safety workshop I
Click the gallery for more photos from the workshop that kicked off on Thursday.
Executive director of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Paula Fletcher singled out the motorcycles as a serious threat to road safety locally.
Speaking at this morning’s opening session, Fletcher said: “It is a totally new phenomenon that has hit us blindside because it has to do with a group of persons who have the money to be able to buy these little motorbikes in numbers and form themselves in groups and their behaviour is quite unsafe on the roads."
Fletcher said the council is seeing cases of head-on collisions with motorbikes, which was not previously widespread.
"We have some issues to grapple with and we have to find innovative and different means of getting through," Fletcher said.
Meanwhile, Dr Alwin Hales, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Mining, outlined several challenges that Jamaica faces with regards to road fatalities and accidents that are negatively impacting the island’s health services and the economy.
He said that the new road traffic act, which was recently passed in the House of Representatives and the establishment of the new Island Traffic Authority will play a role in the management of road safety with the use of modern facilities and trained personnel.
Over 40 international experts and representatives from Caribbean English-speaking countries will examine safer systems approaches and urban mobility; promoting a stronger regulatory and enforcement framework; optimizing data management for improved planning and policymaking; as well as best practices for vehicle safety, including powered two-wheelers (motorcycles).
Participants will also benefit from regional case studies and best practices regarding transport policy and institutional management of road safety from Trinidad and Tobago, Surinam and Belize.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC 2015), notes the rate of fatalities from traffic accidents in the region grew from 14.75 to 17.68 deaths per 100,000 population between 2000 and 2010, an increase of 20 per cent. This fatality rate is almost twice the level observed in high-income countries (10 per 100,000 population).
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Pan-American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), workshop co-organizers, are also earmarked to make specialist presentations. This will include the state of road safety in the Americas and creating a more enabling environment for the enhanced well-being of road users.