Automobile Club of Moldova
  • Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Automobile Club of Moldova
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Transport (18 hits),

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General content

World and country statistics in road crashes domain is an alarming fact that urges everyone to act in order to prevent them. It is alarming the fact, that in recent years, road accidents have become an epidemic, which destroys the lives of more than 1.3 million people worldwide, and other of some 50 million are severely traumatized. The road crashes are predicted to become the fifth leading global cause of death by 2030, unless immediate action is taken.

Most passenger and goods traffic uses roads (for example, close to 80 percent and 50 percent, respectively, in the European Union). Rising incomes in many developing countries have led to more motor vehicles and greater traffic volumes, but road safety management capacity, road infrastructure and enforcement of traffic safety regulations have not kept pace. As a result, road traffic injuries have become a major public health challenge in many low- and middle-income countries including in ECA. About 90 percent of the 1.3 million deaths and 50 million injuries from road traffic crashes worldwide each year occur in LMICs, although these countries have only 48 percent of the world?s registered vehicles (WHO 2009). Increasing motorization and urbanization in these countries could double this toll by 2030. The difference between low- or middle-income countries and high-income countries - where many road deaths still occur - is stunning.

The main risk factors for road crashes are:

? Road design features, including those that expose vulnerable road users when mixing with traffic (for example, due to lack of crossings or walkways).

? Lack of effective regulation and enforcement of required vehicle condition, driver?s education and training, and risky behaviors.

? Driver behavior: speeding; recklessness; drinking and driving; not using seatbelts, helmets, and other protective equipment; and using mobile phones, especially texting.

The Commission for Global Road Safety is an independent body under the Chairmanship of Lord Robertson of Port Ellen and patronage of HRH Prince Michael of Kent. It was established in 2006 by the FIA Foundation (a UK registered charity) to promote action to reverse the rising tide of road traffic injury and fatality in developing countries. Its ?Make Roads Safe? reports published in 2006 and 2009 called for the first ever global Ministerial Conference, which was subsequently held in Moscow in November 2009, and proposed that the UN mandate a Decade of Action for Road Safety, a proposal which was subsequently approved by the UN General Assembly in March 2010. Amongst the recommendations in the Commission?s third ?Make Roads Safe? report, published in 2011, we call on the international community to recognize road traffic injuries as a sustainability challenge in the context of the Rio+20 Conference and discussions on a post-Millennium Development Goals framework.

Dr. Watkins? analysis is echoed in the 2011 ?State of the World?s Children? report from the UN Children?s Fund. In the report, which focuses on adolescence, UNICEF argues that older children have been neglected as a health priority. ?Lasting change in the lives of children and young people?can only be achieved and sustained by complementing investment in the first decade of life with greater attention and resources applied in the second?, the report concludes. Injury, and in particular road injury, is identified as an area that needs to be addressed. ?Injuries are a growing concern in public health in relation to younger children and adolescents alike. They are the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10-19?many of these deaths are related to road traffic accidents?, the authors acknowledge. ?Fatalities from injuries among adolescents are highest among the poor?Because the rate of urbanization is most rapid in the poorest regions.?

We welcome Rio+20 as an important opportunity to identify the major sustainability challenges facing the world and to contribute to the design of a post-MDG framework that will meet the needs of developing nations in the second and third decades of the 21st Century. We strongly believe that global road traffic death and injury, and the wider but related issue of safe and sustainable transportation policy, must be recognized as sustainability challenges at the Rio+20 Conference. We urge and encourage the Secretariat, member nations and participants to include reference to safe and sustainable road mobility in the ?Outcomes Document? of the Conference.

Specific elements

According to WHO Report on road traffic injury prevention:?Road traffic injuries are a growing public health issue, disproportionately affecting vulnerable groups of road users, including the poor. More than half the people killed in traffic crashes are young adults aged between 15 and 44 years. Furthermore, road traffic injuries cost low-income and middle-income countries between 1% and 2% of their gross national product ? more than the total development aid received by these countries.?

The Republic of Moldova is one of the countries mentioned above, where the issue of road traffic accidents is a major public health problem. Over 3000 Moldovans are seriously injured and about 500 are killed on our national roads annually, more than 10% - children.

A deep study of the statistics demonstrated that the most vulnerable road users are young people and men - often the breadwinners in a family. This fact has a strong impact on the general situation of social public health. By the World Bank ranking, Moldova is considered to be a country with a ?senescent? society, which is another important reason for us to prevent the fatalities involving young generation. These losses are not caused just by the number of crashes at the scene, but also by the tardy render of the first aid by the paramedics and the lack of an established system of post crash rehabilitation.

It is important to underline the link between the road casualties and development. In 2009 the World Bank and other leading development banks published a joint strategy paper identifying road casualties as ?one of the most significant public health development priorities of the early 21st century.? Real progress will require concerted action of the part of many actors. Within countries, effective casualty reduction requires cooperation across many public agencies. Achieving a good outcome will in turn require the development of new coalitions bringing together health professionals, teachers, parents and local community groups. At an international level, development agencies and civil society organizations need to start a treating road traffic injury as a core element in their activities.

In such a way, road safety issue is recognized as a huge burden, harming not only the social sphere of the community, but also the sustainable development of the whole state. A World Bank report in 2009, ?Death on Wheels?, pointed to the increasingly unbearable burden of road deaths and injuries on economic and social development in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, costing up to 3% of GDP in many countries.

Melanie Marlett, Head of the World Bank in Moldova, has estimated that every life lost on Moldova?s roads costs the equivalent of US$ 511,000 to the Moldovan economy, not to mention the human cost of each life lost and each injured person. The cost of road deaths and injuries to Moldova in 2009 was already in excess of $300 million a year ? around 3% of GDP. This demonstrates that safe roads are crucial to Moldova?s economic development ? underpinning trade and tourism, connecting people to offices, schools and hospitals, and building a business environment attractive for foreign investors. Effective enforcement is therefore an important tool for Moldova?s economic and social development.

In regard to this, the Republic of Moldova has sponsored a UN Resolution agreed in March 2010 calling for the Decade of Action for road safety 2011-2020. In such a way, on 11th of May 2011, in Moldova, like in many other countries was launched the Decade of Action for Road Safety, making the commitment to raise the level of road safety and improve the safety measures for all road users.

The United Nations has launched the ?Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020?, describing road injury as "major public health problem with a broad range of social and economic consequences which, if unaddressed, may affect the sustainable development of countries and hinder progress towards the Millennium Development Goals". It worth to mention that Moldovan Secretary General of the Government, Victor Bodiu, participated at the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit in New York, which took place in September 2010. Thus, the General Secretary of State met with senior United Nations officials and leaders from multilateral development institutions to highlight the ?missing link? between road safety and the MDGs.

There is growing recognition that improving road safety can also contribute to achieving the MDGs, particularly in relation to child mortality, access to healthcare (on safe roads), and universal access to education (a million children are killed or seriously injured each year in road crashes, the majority as pedestrians). UNICEF has urged that action to prevent injuries in the second decade of a child?s life should become ?a major international health objective?.

Addressing road safety will also help to achieve environmental objectives, including action on climate change, particularly through providing a safer road system for users of non-motorized Transport, such as pedestrians and cyclists, the most vulnerable road users. Providing safe facilities for non-motorized Transport, and encouraging affordable and safe public Transport, can reduce demand for modal shift to the car. According to the UN Environment Programme, such policies can make ?a large, lasting impact?on fuel use, congestion, air quality and CO2 emissions? It is also one of the most cost-effective actions for saving hundreds of thousands of lives?.

The UN Environment Programme is also urging a change in emphasis in Transport planning in developing nations to support and protect non-motorized mobility and to encourage safe and affordable public Transport (low income families in developing countries can currently spend up to 25% of their income on public Transport), citing the benefits for a range of environmental objectives. UNEP points out that ?cities with a better modal mix between cars, public Transport, walking and cycling have lower energy use per capita. By incorporating non-motorized Transport facilities in the Transport grid, a large, lasting impact can be made on fuel use, congestion, air quality and CO2 emissions?. Furthermore, UNEP argues that ?designating road space for pedestrians and cyclists in proportion to the demand for non-motorized Transport is crucial. It is also one of the most cost-effective actions for saving hundreds of thousands of lives. For example, the top two countermeasures for improving safety in Nairobi, Kenya, recommended by the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) are pedestrian crossings and sidewalks?, (?Share the Road: Invest in Walking & Cycling?, UN Environment Programme and FIA Foundation, 2011).

As Moldova is a developing country, the situation is made worse by the urbanization process, in the result of which the number of Transport grows and the presence of old soviet cars pollute the environment and bring harm to a big number of population, particularly town inhabitants.

Another disappointing fact is that in our country there are no facilities for bicyclists and in many places even for pedestrians. On July 2, 2010, in Moldova was launched the iRAP Programme (International Road Assessment Programme) that inspected over 3000 km of Moldavian road network. At the end of the inspections there was elaborated a final report, in which was specified that: ?Overall, road markings were found to be poor on more than 90% of the road inspected. Less than 20% of roads were rated as in ?good? condition. Some 80% of the network had unpaved shoulders. Two-thirds of the network has aggressive objects less than 5 meters from the road edge.?

According to World?s Bank report entitled ?Death on wheels?: ?An effective road safety strategy requires a multi-sectoral, ?safe system? approach. It needs a lead agency to coordinate contributions by the many government departments across which road safety responsibilities tend to be diffused: Transport, interior, police, health, and education, among others. The goal is to prevent the occurrence of injury, minimize the severity of injury when traffic injuries occur, and reduce the severity of injury in the aftermath. Road safety must be integrated into the design of Transport plans and programs and considered in broader public policy discussions that influence people?s Transport options and decisions. When road safety becomes an integral part of Transport policy, the benefits of reducing noise and air pollutants, controlling alcohol abuse, and promoting walking and cycling become apparent. For example, maintaining lower speeds reduces the costs of injuries and also the costs from air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, and fear-based barriers among would-be pedestrians and cyclists.?

It should be mentioned that in the Republic of Moldova a Strategy for Road Safety was elaborated, that highlights the main road safety problems and the main key steps to improve it, and namely to reduce with 50% the number of crash fatalities till 2020. In this strategy it is specified also about the so called Progressive Vision Zero, which goal is to have zero victims on roads, stating that even one victim is too much.

Institutional framework for sustainable development

It is our view that this gap between the growing acknowledgement of the issue and achieving sustained action can be bridged if, for the first time, road safety is included within the framework of a major international sustainability conference. Identifying road traffic injury as a new challenge at the Rio+20 Conference will be invaluable in raising the profile of the issue and helping to institutionalize road safety programmes within middle-income and low-income governments and organizations. As we have seen in the powerful response to climate change and environmental protection following the first Rio summit in 1992, and in the united focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals that was the major outcome of the Johannesburg Summit in 2002, the priorities agreed at these international fora do set the global agenda and issues that are absent from the agenda are subsequently neglected and under-funded.

The priorities agreed at international fore like Rio+20 set the global agenda and issues that are absent from the agenda, subsequently neglected and under-funded. This is why it is so important to undertake action to improve road safety and promote sustainable modes of Transport to be included in the agenda and outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference. The absence of road safety from the agenda of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and the consequent neglect of this issue in international development fore, has arguably contributed to the growing toll of death and disability on the world?s roads. The vast majority ? more than ninety per cent - of these casualties are occurring in middle-income and low-income countries where road safety awareness and the capacity to tackle the problem is low, and where both traffic levels and road casualties are rising rapidly (Global Status Report on Road Safety, WHO, 2009).

Many developing country governments and large institutions are beginning to recognize the need to prioritize road safety in the context of a sustainable Transport system. But progress is slow. The gap between an institution acknowledging the issue and achieving sustained action can be bridged if road safety is included within the framework of a major international sustainability conference.

Despite the absence of road safety from the mainstream sustainable development agenda there is now a global mandate for action to reduce global road traffic injuries. UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/64/255 has established the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 with a goal to ?stabilize and reduce? road deaths by 2020. Our Commission estimates that if this ambitious goal can be achieved up to 5 million lives and 50 million serious injuries could be prevented over the course of the Decade (?Make Roads Safe: A Decade of Action for Road Safety?, Commission for Global Road Safety, 2009).

Until road safety can be integrated into the mainstream of sustainability policy, millions of people will be condemned to unnecessary and preventable violent, painful deaths, or lives blighted by severe disability. This is why it is so important that action to improve road safety and promote sustainable modes of Transport is included in the agenda and outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference.

The time to act has arrived and it should not be missed any chance to prevent road fatalities and their cruel consequences!

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