Argentina: Decade of Action Ambitious but the Foundations are in Place

“Ten years in Argentina is a whole era. We have inflation at 4% per month and things change every week. It makes it hard to plan. At least we have the institutions. Our national agency is well set up and so my hope remains.”

Hector D’Agostino is a founding member and ex-President of Conducienda a Conciencia, one of the Alliance’s nine members in Argentina and the current International Relations Director of the Federacion Iberoamericana de víctimas contra la violencia vial (FICVI). For the past 14 years, Hector and Conducienda a Conciencia have been advocating for the rights of road victims and for safer vehicles, speed reduction, and sustainable mobility.

Hector points to several key areas of advocacy that FICVI have been working on and will be hoping to see further progress in the coming year.

  • Speed: “This is a good time for a speed campaign with schools going back [after a long period of being closed due to COVID-19],” says Hector.
  • Automotive industry: Vehicle standards are a big issue in Latin America. Significant variations in safety standards exist between vehicles manufactured by the same brand in the same factory but for different markets. Those destined for North America are fitted with all the safety features required by US or Canadian law; yet, those destined for the Latin American countries do not have them because government regulations do not require them. FICVI is working with Latin NCAP to push governments to strengthen the required safety standards and vehicle manufacturers to include them without the need for legislation. In Argentina, the government is receptive but the manufacturers lobby is strong.
  • Road Victims Assistance: One of FICVI’s big advocacy successes has been a pilot government scheme to provide tailored support to road victims and their families. By calling a single three-digit number, citizens can get access to lawyers, social workers, psychologists and more. The scheme was well set up with protocols defined through consultation with victims. Initially, take up of the service was low due to lack of promotion and in danger of being cut. After discussions with the new Director of the National Road Safety Agency, FICVI were able to push the agency to instigate the three-digit number and promote it on TV and other sources. Hector hopes that the victim assistance program will be adopted in other Latin American countries in the coming Decade.

Regarding the next decade, Hector talks with cautious optimism about achieving the 2030 goals.

Following elections in November 2020, the government changed. The NGO is working with the new administration but, given the significant economic crisis in Argentina, it doesn’t expect a lot in the next few years. There is no money to invest in infrastructure but Hector sees opportunities to take advantage of measures being implemented for COVID-19 recovery and social distancing.

Hector’s optimism about the Decade of Action is bolstered by the strength of the National Road Safety Agency, which, is enshrined in law, and, crucially, is funded by a 1% tax on motor insurance premiums, giving it independence and stability. The agency has an effective consultation committee with a range of civil society organizations such as education, insurance, the automotive industry, NGOs, including Conducienda a Conciencia, which enables proposals to be brought to the committee for discussion and for consideration by the agency.

“We don’t expect anything big in the next three years, but we are setting up the foundations – taking little steps, for example introduction of specialist road crash prosecutors that will increase the probability of justice being done in crash cases,” says Hector.

Read more about FICVI HERE.