Excerpts from Reducing Global Road Traffic Tragedies

  • "The current road traffic tragedy in low- and middle-income countries is occurring on current road infrastructure, with a current vehicle mix, and in nations with a current level of healthcare access. Within these current parameters, countermeasures to reduce road traffic crashes and deaths must provide the largest and most immediate results at a cost these nations can at least contemplate affording."
  • "Making a measurable change in driver behavior takes years. Making a measurable change with improved vehicle safety standards and crashworthiness also takes years. Building new roads and bridges likewise takes years. Road safety engineering, however, is effective immediately and records results in weeks."
  • "The sharp declines in road traffic deaths from 1973 to 1985 on the roads of high-income nations did not result from a robust adoption of behaviorist policies or from safety regulations of auto designs. Rather, reduced fatalities resulted primarily from road safety engineering actions that improved existing but safety deficient roads."
  • "A mystifying issue is why few contemporaries in the highway departments of the world, and fewer in the road traffic safety professions, seem to recognize the role of pavement marking as a primary crash countermeasure. It appears that a generation of road traffic safety practitioners has grown up in high-income countries without knowing how very important pavement markings are. Further, there seems to be a notable lack of awareness of the role road safety engineering played in reversing the road traffic fatality increases in the mid 1970’s to the mid 1980’s."
  • "In recommending programs and actions for low- and middle-income countries, the United Nations and the World Health Organization have largely failed to recognize the need to first focus on making existing roads safer."
  • "Despite claiming urgency in many conferences and publications, nothing in the UN/WHO activities indicate urgency in action. With its fundamental misconception of what produced decreasing road traffic fatalities in the rich world, the UN/WHO got on the wrong track."
  • "The route to incremental gains in road safety by high-income nations is vastly different from initial and ongoing gains needed in low- and middle-income countries."
  • "There is general agreement on one basic reality which is that the cause of most crashes is due to drivers making mistakes. The issue is how to prevent as many as possible of the potential mistakes from becoming actual mistakes that result in crashes, injuries and deaths. Road safety engineering actions are immediately effective to help drivers avoid crash-causing mistakes."
  • "The Vision Zero and the safe system concept expands on road safety engineering in that the road infrastructure is viewed as an integral part of the road safety equation, with an aim to perfect it."
  • "It is plausible that much of the incomplete and erroneous thinking by the UN/WHO, and for that matter also by much of the global road safety community, links back to labeling road traffic safety a public health issue. No nation successful in minimizing traffic deaths and injuries has ever given that responsibility to a public health agency."