Globally with 1.25 million deaths and up to 50 million person injured and disabled annually there
are over 3500 deaths every day on roads, equivalent to a 911 Twin towers tragedy or 10 jumbo jet
airplane crashes every single day, 365 days a year but road crashes remain a “silent plague” in
many Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Despite the launch of the UN Decade for Road
safety in 2011, road safety has not had the serious attention or investment that other Global
disasters, diseases and illnesses have received. LMICs lose up to 5% of their annual GDP as a result
of road crashes which, in many cases, are preventable and for which effective solutions are known
and proven. Many developing countries do not yet have the institutional capacity to even address
their road safety problems effectively to reduce deaths and injuries and the resulting recurring
annual losses to their economies. These losses are now frequently greater than the total
development assistance that such countries receive from all sources, so the effectiveness and socio
– economic impact of such aid support is often undermined and negated by this recurring drain
upon the finances of such countries. Road crashes are now undoubtedly affecting the economic
and social development of many LMICs and the wellbeing, poverty and life chances of the poor in
such countries.

Over 90% of Global road deaths occur in LMICs and whereas deaths in the more developed
countries and some developing countries are now stabilizing or reducing, annual deaths are still
rising in 68 countries, most of which are LMICs. This requires renewed efforts to assist such
countries to develop the capacity of senior decision makers and road safety professionals so that
more effective activity can be undertaken. Due to failure to recognize and understand the scale of
such losses, many countries do not invest sufficiently in safety improvement and are often
reluctant to borrow from Development banks to improve safety on their roads as they still tend to
see expenditure on road safety as a “cost” rather than as an “investment”. This systemic
underfunding of and lack of priority to road safety remains a continuing impediment to safety
improvement. The recent inclusion of road safety targets into the Sustainable development goals
(SDGs) should focus more attention on the road safety problems of LMICs and make road safety
activities eligible for development funding from bilateral agencies to help countries to begin to
address this problem.

The UN Decade of Action, the excellent work of the WHO and the UN Economic Commissions and
the various guidelines on key risk factors developed under the collective effort of the organisations
and individuals contributing to UN Road Safety Collaboration (UNRSC) offers a source of guidance
on best international practices. If, in addition, the experience and expertise of the countries and
individuals who have implemented successful road safety reforms and safety programmes can be
made available and shared with such LMICs, this will enable them to reduce the deaths and injuries
on their roads. IRSC will assist in that process by providing a platform for knowledge transfer and
exchange of experiences to help inform the political leadership, to develop the professionals and
to provide advice on the institutional developments and structures needed for effective action.

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