What the Resolution Means for the Private Sector

In this article, Manoelle Lepoutre, Senior Vice-President, Civil Society Engagement, Total S.A., answers our questions on the UN Resolution on Improving Global Road Safety, bringing private sector view to our series of perspectives on the resolution.

What is your reaction to the new UN Resolution on Improving Global Road Safety?

“We, at TOTAL, are delighted that the UN Resolution A/RES/74/299 on Improving Global Road Safety has been passed. It is a significant step forward for road safety and we are glad to see the role of private sector recognized. We are looking forward to working with our employees and partners in pushing forward the Second Decade of Action.”

What should private sector organizations know about the resolution?

“Every private sector organization is impacted by the need for safe, sustainable road systems. Whether the delivery or receipt of goods, responsibility for employees, production of materials for roads and vehicles, or financing, business activities and success are inextricably linked to the need for safe roads.  Safe roads and vehicles are good for business. They mean safe customers, safe employees, and safe businesses. Investing in road safety makes good business sense.

“The UN resolution “encourages Member States and private sector entities that have not yet done so to establish an effective mechanism to reduce the number of crashes, road traffic fatalities and injuries caused by professional drivers, including drivers of commercial vehicles, owing to job-specific hazards, including fatigue.” According to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA), approximately 335 million, or 25% of all vehicles on the road, are commercial vehicles. Many millions more will be non-commercial vehicles used for business purposes. Work-related crashes account for between a quarter and a third of road fatalities in the United States, Australia, and the European Union.

“Therefore, if all businesses promoted a culture of safety among their employees, alongside policies and procedures for vehicle and driver standards, driving practices, and rest times, that were actively enforced, the sector could make a significant impact to save lives and meet the 2030 goal to reduce road deaths and injuries by 50%. We all have a responsibility toward achieving the target and we all benefit when everyone plays their part.

“TOTAL’s trucks cover more than 700 million kilometers every year and we supply fuel to some 4 million road users every day. Safety, therefore, is more than just a priority for us, it’s a core value, the basis of our strategy, and something that permeates all levels of our organization, from managers and employees to partner companies and local stakeholders.”

What are the benefits of multi-stakeholder collaborations for road safety?

“The resolution recognizes “a shared responsibility to move towards a world free from road traffic fatalities and serious injuries and that addressing road safety demands multi-stakeholder collaboration among the public and private sectors, academia, professional organizations, non-governmental organizations and the media.” It promotes collaboration between sectors that can help to accelerate progress. TOTAL operates in 130 host countries through service stations, depots, affiliates and more. Our activities and geographical footprint place us at the junction of a range of society’s concerns relating to people, the environment or business ethics. We have seen the benefit that collaboration can have and its impact on local communities. Building partnerships on the ground with local road safety players, such as NGOs, local authorities and schools. For example, we’ve been working for 8 years with the NGO Safe Way Right Way in Uganda, Cameroun and Kenya and we collaborate since 2018 with Essilor on Road Safety and Vision in Kenya enable us to develop trust-based relationships thanks to which we can efficiently move community behaviors in the right direction and where we can be attentive to the crash prevention needs of local stakeholders. We also develop initiatives alongside other partners operating in the private sector. For example, through our Total Foundation program, we are deploying with Michelin an educational and awareness program on Road Safety for children, called VIA. After India, Cameroun, Kenya, it is been launched in Thailand. By pooling our strengths and resources, these alliances help to maximize our impact. This is a huge opportunity for private sector organizations to be a valuable part of the communities in which they operate and to contribute to the safety and prosperity of these communities.

“Collaboration is also essential at a global level. TOTAL is a founding member of the UN Road Safety Trust Fund, an active member of the Global Road Safety Partnership, member of the FIA High Level Panel for Road Safety, and partner to the French Ministry of the Interior as part of the “safer roads” campaign. As a global company, we are proud to be able to use our experience, reach, and resources, to positively impact the road safety agenda and in ways that can benefit our local host communities.”

How can NGOs engage with private sector to push forward the resolution and its targets?

“The resolution brings a great opportunity for NGOs to engage with private sector. As a starting point, working with local companies to implement fleet safety policies, changing the safety culture among employees, and pushing governments to enact and enforce standards for professional drivers, is a valuable step to help achieve the 2030 targets.

“The resolution helps to show that it isn’t just transport, logistics, and energy companies who should be engaging with road safety – it affects us all. In their interactions with private sector organizations, NGOs need to emphasize both the responsibility and the benefits of working together for safer roads. You must be well-researched and realistic. Some organizations, like TOTAL are already strongly engaged with the resolution and the targets but others will need convincing. They may not see how safe roads are relevant to their organization, or they may be more preoccupied by the cost and inconvenience of implementing safety measures. Be rigorous in your preparations for meetings with private sector: understand their business, their challenges, the benefits that investing in road safety could bring. Moreover, make sure that you reach the right person in the organization, someone with the power and motivation to act. It is a lot of work, but as we have seen from TOTAL’s partnerships with NGOs, the mutual benefits are well worth it.”