The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says more needs to be done in the Americas, including in the Caribbean, to address traffic management, as this is the key to saving lives on the roads.
Lowering speed limits, installing more speed bumps and roundabouts are among the measures it believes can help.
In a report on Road Safety in the Region of the Americas, PAHO said control at the local level is important, so lower speed limits can be set in populated or vulnerable areas such as those near schools or health facilities. It noted that 17 countries in the Americas have already set maximum speed limits of less than 50 km/h in urban areas and 13 have given local authorities leeway to reduce limits further.
It added that laws on speed limits must be accompanied by strict compliance so that they are effective and thus save lives.
“The region of the Americas has made progress in adopting standards that limit speed in urban areas, but it needs to further strengthen the application of these standards to reduce deaths and injuries due to traffic,” said Eugenia Rodriguez, Regional Advisor on road safety at PAHO/WHO.
In Barbados, there have been 15 fatal accidents so far this year – five more than all of 2016 – and scores of other accidents that result in injuries, with authorities suggesting that speeding contributes to some of these collisions.
Rodriguez suggested speed management measures that could be implemented to mitigate these, include: building or modifying roads to include features that slow traffic, such as roundabouts and speed bumps; establishing speed limits appropriate to the function of each road; enforcing speed limits through the use of manual and automated controls; installing in-vehicle technologies in new cars, such as intelligent speed assistance and autonomous emergency braking; and raising awareness about the dangers of speed.
Today’s start of the fourth UN Global Road Safety Week, and its related campaign, Save Lives: #SlowDown, draw attention to the dangers of speed and the measures which should be put in place to address this leading risk for road traffic deaths and injuries.
PAHO said more than 20 countries in the Americas are carrying out a variety of information and awareness activities for decision-makers and authorities of traffic-regulating institutions, as well as for the general public. Activities include dissemination of messages in media and social networks, transport systems, and schools. Road safety fairs, caravans, presentations in public places, signage work in urban areas, and promotion of commitments by local authorities to reduce speed limits.
Among hundreds of other events, Slow Down Days are being held in Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago, campaigns around schools are being held in Brazil, and parliamentarians are involved in activities in several countries.
A new report is scheduled for release during this week: Save LIVES: A road safety technical package, which details 22 key evidence-based measures considered most likely to impact on road traffic deaths and injuries, including some linked to managing speed.