The recent release of the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2023 offers a crucial overview of the progress and challenges in road safety worldwide. While the general view of the data might provide a positive outlook in terms of reduction in absolute number of deaths from road traffic crashes, a granular view of in-country data for many countries show that significant work still needs to be done. We asked some of our NGOs to comment on their country’s data in the report. While many members expressed disappointment in the lack of progress and a decline in safety on their roads, some expressed optimism about some progress made.
Tunisia: progress amidst challenges
Data from Tunisia shows a decrease in the estimated rate of road traffic deaths from 24 to 16 per 100,000 population. 30.18% of fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists.
Afef Ben Ghenia, Afef Ben Ghenia, Founder of the Les Ambassadeurs de la Sécurité Routière in Tunisia said, “The figures are certainly alarming. Motorcycle deaths are on the rise as the non-fastening of helmets leads to deaths for this category. However, we are optimistic as some progress has been made especially with a decrease in the estimated rate of road traffic deaths from 24 to 16 per 100,000 population since the 2018 report”. This improvement is attributed to the combined efforts of government and civil society which emphasizes the need to strengthen collaboration and civil society involvement. On what they intend to do with the data, Afef said that “these data will guide our vision and our work, which in the coming years will focus on advocacy for legislation on helmet use and enforcement, legislation on child restraint systems, and the enforcement of the law on 30km/h zones.”
Nepal: a call for urgent action
Data from Nepal shows an increase in the estimated rate of road traffic deaths from 23 to 28 per 100,000 population. 26.3% of fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists.
The situation in Nepal, as described by Puspa Raj Pant, NASA Foundation Nepal, requires urgent action as he expressed dismay at the 75% increase in road traffic injuries mortality rate since 2010. “It is utterly disheartening, and this report must serve as a stark wake-up call to our decision-makers and national leadership. The high proportion of motorcyclists (34%) and pedestrians (22%) among road traffic deaths is a strong reminder of the need to prioritize their safety”, said Puspa. Criticizing the government’s lack of serious attention to road traffic injuries and deaths, Puspa urges the government to establish a lead agency for road safety, update legislation, and strengthen enforcement mechanisms. “The time for inaction is over,” Puspa asserts, advocating for immediate government action.
USA: a mixed picture
Data from USA shows an increase in the estimated rate of road traffic deaths from 13 to 14 per 100,000 population. Reported fatalities user distribution not available.
Rochelle Sobel, President of Association for Safe International Road Travel, USA describes the situation as “a ray of hope wrapped in an overwhelming sense of urgency and impatience.” Despite a global decline in road deaths, the slow pace of progress and legislative gaps remain significant concerns. Rochelle points out the alarming trend of the US falling behind in road safety among industrialized countries, while expressing some optimism. “Notwithstanding the disturbing road crash statistics indicating that the US has plummeted from among the safest industrialized countries to among the least safe, there is some reason for optimism”, says Rochelle. She notes the implementation of the National Roadway Safety Strategy as a sign of political commitment while calling for stronger advocacy for pedestrian and cyclist protection, speed reduction measures, lower legal Blood Alcohol Concentration limits, and effective truck safety legislation.
Kenya: rising fatalities and legislative gaps
Data from Kenya shows an increase in the estimated rate of road traffic deaths from 23 to 28 per 100,000 population. Reported fatalities user distribution not available.
“The 2023 Global Status Report reveals concerning trends in Kenya, notably a significant rise in road fatalities, from 2,965 in 2018 to 4,579. This alarming increase calls for a critical re-evaluation of the country’s road safety strategies” says Bright Oywaya, Executive Director ASIRT, Kenya. “The number of fatalities. is concerning. We will need, as a country, to reevaluate our strategies.” Additionally, there are challenges in data systems, particularly the lack of data on helmet use for 2–3 wheelers, impeding the assessment of intervention impacts. Despite these issues, there are positive developments in road construction standards, with new roads now legally mandated to consider all users. However, gaps in legislation, especially the absence of laws protecting pedestrians and inappropriate urban speed limits, remain pressing concerns. “We need to prioritize strengthening data systems and actively work towards reducing speed in urban areas where traffic and pedestrians interact.”
Argentina: positive trends with a need for stronger measures
Data from Argentina shows a decrease in the estimated rate of road traffic deaths from 13 to 9 per 100,000 population. 14.3% of fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists.
“The data for Argentina shows a decrease in road fatalities, however, there is need for further improvement”, says Héctor D’Agostino, FICVI Argentina. “A major concern is the surge in motorcycle-related deaths, now accounting for almost half of the fatalities, prompting the need for safer automobiles and tougher controls.” Additionally, Hector highlighted that “the Road Victims Assistance Unit in Argentina has been providing excellent post-crash support to victims and their families in the last few years. It is a model that we would like to be replicated in the region and we are working on it with several governments and agencies.” He further said that “we will use the data from the report for further analysis and comparison within the Ibero-American region, underlining the need for region-specific strategies in road safety.”
Namibia: sustaining progress by maintaining focus
Data from Namibia shows a decrease in the estimated rate of road traffic deaths from 33 to 22 per 100,000 population. 33.4% of fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists.
“The report highlights significant progress in road safety in Namibia, which can be attributed to improved collaboration among stakeholders, enhanced visibility and enforcement efforts, including the provision of resources like breathalyzers”, says Horst Heimstädt ,CEO of the Namibia Road Safety Forum.
“In my opinion, we are on the right track, but more work needs to be done, in terms of stronger commitment and funding. This is where NGOs are needed to continue to push advocacy for evidence-based actions because despite the progress made, challenges persist, particularly the shifting perception of road crashes among leaders as other issues like housing and utilities take precedence. The focus on road safety needs to be maintained so that the progress made can be sustained.”