GENEVA - Seven of the world’s largest auto and oil companies today announced a collaborative five-year, $10 million project to reduce road traffic fatalities in developing countries.

The World Health Organization projects that road traffic incidents will become the third leading cause of injury/disease globally by 2020. Unless steps are taken to improve road traffic safety, fatalities and injuries will likely increase by 65% from 1.2 million deaths and 50 million injuries globally today.

The initiative, to be implemented by the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), hosted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), will focus on such key road safety themes as pedestrian safety and safety belt use, the training of road safety professionals in developing countries, and provision of seed money to support pilot programs to improve road safety in these countries.

Participating companies will also contribute expertise and linkages with governments and the community in the selected countries. Companies supporting this project include: Shell, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Michelin, Renault, and Toyota.

This initiative builds on the World Business Council on Sustainable Development Sustainable Mobility Project, which released its final report in July. The report identified increasing road traffic fatality rates in developing countries as an impediment to mobility becoming sustainable by 2030.

"We are delighted to work with these companies to help build the capacity of developing countries to reduce traffic fatalities," said GRSP Chief Executive David Silcock. "This initiative builds on and expands our capability to deliver road safety improvements in line with the recommendations of the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention."

"We have identified several candidate regions and will begin talking immediately with those governments to determine what initiatives make the most sense. We hope to be able to announce further specifics by the second quarter of 2005."

"The GRSP brings together representatives of business, government, and non-governmental organizations to work together on practical initiatives to improve road safety in developing countries," Silcock said. "This initiative by Ford, General Motors, Honda, Michelin, Renault, Toyota, and Shell is an important step forward for our organization and for road safety in developing countries."

James D. Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, whose institution is a strong supporter of road safety and one of the founding members of the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), welcomed the initiative. "Road safety is a very important development challenge; one that is often overlooked, and which disproportionately impacts the poor," Wolfensohn said.

"If we are to reduce the very significant social and economic impacts of road traffic fatalities and injuries, then everyone must take them much more seriously and take preventative efforts accordingly. We welcome the much stronger engagement of leading multinationals in this important initiative. It will hopefully encourage governments and others in the Partnership to also step forward and do more to address the problem."

"The Sustainable Mobility Project undertaken under the auspices of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development identified a range of challenges to mobility becoming sustainable by 2030," said Bjorn Stigson, President of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. "Many of these challenges are already being addressed by the project participants, both competitively and in collaboration with other participants as well as governments and other stakeholders."

"Road safety is no accident", said Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department for Injuries and Violence Prevention. "Addressing this public health crisis requires political will and collaborative action by governments, multilateral agencies, civil society, and the private sector."

Published : 18/12/04 Author : Melanie Carter

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