Bloomberg Philanthropies nearly doubles support for global road safety, commits $240 million more

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 18 Feb 2020

Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi are among the global cities that are commited to Bloomberg Philanthorpies' road safety initiative.

Almost doubling its support for global road safety, Bloomberg Philanthropies has committed another $240 million (Rs 1,713 crore) for a 2020-2025, which will help save an estimated 600,000 more lives and prevent up to 22 million injuries in low- and middle-income countries globally. The six-year reinvestment in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for global road safety is expected to double its impact to date. The reinvestment also includes a new awards competition to shine a light on low- and middle-income countries that have made exemplary progress in road safety.

Over the past 12 years, Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested $260 million (Rs 1,856 crore) to curb deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes. That investment has led 10 countries (China, Russia, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Kenya, Brazil, Turkey, and India) and 12 localities to change their laws or policies to reduce at least one road safety risk factor. Over 3.5 billion people are now covered by a new road safety law or policy since the Initiative began.

According to Kelly Henning, director of public health at Bloomberg Philanthropies said, "As transport and health ministers from around the world gather in Sweden this week for the third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, we should keep in mind that these deaths and injuries are completely preventable. After more than a decade of working with our international and in-country partners, we know which policies and interventions are saving lives. By increasing our commitment, we can double our impact by leveraging the many lessons we've learned and adopting new approaches that we believe will accelerate progress." 

While progress is there and  road traffic fatalities have been stabilised to an extent against a growing population of people and vehicles, it is unlikely to meet the sustainable development goal target 3.6 to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% by 2020. More than 1.3 million people die every year due to road accidents even today. India's Road Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari is also scheduled to speak at the third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm on February 19.  

The Bloomberg initiative has saved an estimated 312,000 lives and prevented up to 11.5 million injuries since 2007. Road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally and the number one killer of people in the 5-29 age-group. More than 1.35 million people die and up to 50 million are seriously injured in road traffic crashes each year. A recent report released by the World Bank found that reducing road traffic deaths and injuries by half could add 7-22% to GDP per capita in 5 selected low- and middle-income countries over the next 24 years.   

Dr Etienne Krug, director -Department of Social Determinants of Health at World Health Organisation, said "The price we are paying for our mobility is unacceptable. We need to do much more to save lives on our roads. This new investment is excellent news that comes at a critical time when world leaders convene to decide on achieving a 50% reduction in road traffic deaths by 2030. This support from Bloomberg Philanthropies will catalyse action to help achieve that target."

How the new $240m funding will help
The new funds will help achieve the Initiative's goals in the following ways:
- Increase efforts to strengthen national road safety laws in 15 countries that account for roughly 60% of all road traffic deaths globally. 
- Countries that have already committed to the partnership include Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil,  Colombia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Uganda and Vietnam.
- Support up to 30 cities to effectively implement best-practice road safety activities, including running hard-hitting media campaigns to raise road user understanding of risk factors, training police in best practice enforcement, and redesigning high-crash, high-fatality corridors and intersections.
- Some cities that have already committed to the partnership include Accra, Addis Ababa,
Bangalore, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Cali, Guadalajara, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Kampala, Kumasi, Mumbai, New Delhi, Quito, Sao Paulo, Salvador, and Recife.

- Help more governments regulate vehicle safety standards and raise consumer awareness to demand safer cars, so that all top-selling cars meet the UN safety recommendations in targeted low- and middle-income countries.
- Reduce deaths on high-mortality roads, including interstate highways, through reduced speed limits, wider use of helmets and seatbelts, and fewer drivers speeding and drinking and driving.
- Improve and enhance collection of road crash data to more accurately capture fatalities and injuries, measure impact of policies, and prioritize interventions to reduce deaths and injuries.

The new fund will also help launch ‘Awards for Outstanding Excellence in Road Safety’ to identify and promote exemplary road safety efforts that are saving lives in low- and middle-income countries, and to increase media and government attention to the high burden of road traffic fatalities and injuries.

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Road accidents in India claimed 415 lives, injured 1,286 people each day in 2018​