Contributing to Safer Mobility through Better Institutions
Creation of the Ibero-American Road Safety Observatory Project
April 9, 2013
In Latin America and the Caribbean, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 44. By 2020, this fatality rate is expected to increase by approximately 50 percent, in the absence of targeted road safety initiatives. Low and middle-income countries worldwide experience over 90 percent of road-related traffic fatalities even though they are home to only 48 percent of the world’s registered vehicles. The economic costs of these deaths range from 1 to 3 percent of total gross national product (GNP). To address this global public health crisis, in 2011, the United Nations declared the “Decade of Action for Road Safety,” with the goal of stabilizing and reducing the forecast level of road traffic fatalities by half, by 2020. This commitment is expected to save 5 million lives worldwide and 325,000 lives in the Latin American and Caribbean region alone.
The Bank facilitated exchanges between Argentina and Spain to give Argentina the necessary guidance to establish quality baseline data (the absence of which is a key challenge for the region) to track progress and inform subsequent road safety policy decisions.
This project resulted in the inclusion of Argentina in the widely respected International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD), an aggregated database in which international accident data are continuously collected. This successful knowledge-sharing experience, coupled with Bank assistance to create the Argentine National Road Safety Agency (ANSV), transformed the country into a model for the region.
The OISEVI gives the figures the publicity and legitimacy they didn’t have before, and empowers us as citizens to make demands based on real data
While it is too early to assess the impact of this project at the regional level, it is important to note that the collection of quality baseline data will be instrumental in determining progress towards the UN’s goals and also critical at the time to inform policy decisions in Latin-American countries for improved road safety management. Furthermore, there are important intermediary results in Argentina, which are indicative of the impact that will later be found in the rest of the region as well. These include:
- A 15 percent reduction in average driving speed between 2009 and 2012.
- A 50 percent reduction in drunk-driving rates between 2009 and 2012.
- A 43 percent increase in seat belt usage between 2009 and 2012.
- A 19.5 percent increase in the use of helmets between 2009 and 2012.
- A 10 percent reduction in traffic fatalities (observed between 2008 and 2010 alone), which translates into a reduction of 492 deaths.
- A 15 percent reduction in fatality rates (number of dead per million veh/km) in selected demonstration corridors between 2010 and 2012.
In response to requests from other client Governments in the region, the Bank scaled-up efforts to link 22 countries throughout the region to create the OISEVI. The Bank provided financial and technical support to deliver the initial framework and web-based platform that facilitates data transfer, sharing, analysis and links participating countries to IRTAD’s resources. At the regional level, the launch of the Observatory ensures the availability of data that will support regional monitoring and evaluation efforts and will be critical for the design and implementation of effective results-based programs.
Bank Group Contribution
A US$50 million Bank loan assisted the Argentine Government’s creation of the ANSV and fostered knowledge sharing between Argentina and Spain. Follow-up financing will implement a regional Observatory project in the form of grants from the Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF), a global partnership program administered by the Bank, operational supervision budgets of over US$350,000 from the Bank, and joint financing from the Spanish Government’s Ibero-American cooperation funds (through the Ministry of the Interior).
The Bank facilitated partnerships for knowledge-transfer, funding, and political support with the following:
- The Governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela provided support from the highest levels of Government with particular leadership exhibited by Spain, Argentina and Mexico.
- The Ministry of the Interior of Spain.
- The International Transport Forum with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); essential knowledge-sharing activities through IRTAD.
- Civil society organizations; collaboration to place road safety at the forefront of the political agenda.
This is the first project of its kind in the region and will most likely lead to subsequent initiatives using similar models in other regions. The GRSF is interested in replicating this project in Africa and Asia. The next phase of this project will serve to utilize baseline statistics that now exist thanks to the Observatory to measure the region’s compliance and progress towards the UN’s Decade for Action Road Safety indicators and goals. The results of this evaluation and analysis will subsequently guide future road safety efforts in the region and beyond.
Monica Gangemi, who lost her daughter in 2007 to a fatal traffic accident in Rosario, founded the non-profit organization “Compromiso Vial por Ursula y Carla” through which she works to improve road safety. According to Ms. Gangemi:
“The Observatory is so important. The press uses OISEVI’s data for statistics on road safety; they used to use data from a non-profit because official data didn’t exist. OISEVI helps to explain the logic behind the numbers. When do we count the number of victims? Every 30 days? How do we compare to other countries? The OISEVI gives the figures the publicity and legitimacy they didn’t have before, and empowers us as citizens to make demands based on real data.”