Safe Speeds Part 1: Political Decisions and the Limited Adoption of Speed Management for Road Safety
Submission Date: August 16, 2018 Journal
Suggested Citation: Job, R.F.S. (2018). Safe Speeds Part 1: Political Decisions and the Limited Adoption of Speed Management for Road Safety. Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 29(3), 65-69.
The United Nations (UN) Global Plan for the Decade of Action (UNRSC, 2011) set a target of a 50% reduction in deaths by 2020 compared with the projected increase, and the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.6 is a 50% absolute reduction in both deaths and injuries by 2020. Based on performance to the end of 2016, neither target will be met. It is critical for global road safety that an SDG for road safety with a target date of 2030 be set, so that the now somewhat increased focus on the problem at the highest global levels (including the creation of the UN Fund for Road Safety in April 2018) is not lost. Rather than decreases in deaths during the current decade, the global road safety crisis is deepening. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released the estimate of global deaths (based on analysis which will be fully published late in 2018) at 1.34 million deaths in 2016, an increase on the 1.25 million in 2013 (WHO, 2015). Extrapolating this increase and cumulating the numbers reveal the alarming outcome that from 2018 to 2030 (when the anticipated next road safety decade will end) humanity will suffer 21.7 million deaths and 875 million injuries on the world’s roads: the level of trauma of another world war. There have been many successes in road safety, yet effective road safety programs and policies have not been sufficient to mitigate the increases in motorization of most Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), which already suffer 90% of road crash deaths (WHO, 2015). In addition, many High-Income Countries (HICs) have retreated from sound road safety policies and programs, especially on speed management. These backward steps by HICs have the potential flow-on risk of delaying effective actions in LMICs which often adopt actions in HICs as models for success, based on better road safety performance, more research to demonstrate effects, and HIC consultants’ promotion of HIC policies. This paper describes the limited extent to which effective evidence based speed management infrastructure, policies, and actions are adopted, and considers the central role of political decision making in this limited support for speed management to deliver road safety. This paper will be followed by a second paper addressing the question: Why has the road safety community met with such limited success in advancing automated speed enforcement, safe speed limits, and other speed management measures for road safety? The paper also offers suggestions to improve on this limited success.