When life comes at us with several challenges at once, it can be hard to tackle everything at the same time. 2020 and 2021 have diverted our attention from the problems the world was facing prior to the outbreak, instead focusing us all on working together to overcome the pandemic. That puts us in a sticky situation. Why? Because the world’s other problems didn’t disappear overnight just because COVID-19 struck.
Our attention should remain on ending the pandemic however we can, but without neglecting the other problems we have yet to overcome as a society. For this blog, and in honor of Road Safety Week, I will be focusing on what’s being done and, even more importantly, what can be done to prevent loss of life on the world’s roads.
Although it doesn’t stem from biological factors, road traffic–related deaths and injuries have unparalleled health and socioeconomic implications for society, particularly in areas with high rates of death and injury. According to the latest report by the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 1.35 million people die on the world’s roads every year, and up to 50 million more are left injured or disabled. The majority of these casualties are young breadwinners between the ages of 15 and 29. Because of this, the United Nations has set the ambitious goal of reducing road traffic deaths and injuries by 50 percent by the year 2030 as part of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
AB InBev, alongside our partners at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, have been working nonstop since 2018 to combat this crisis through targeted pilot interventions in countries such as Brazil, China, the Dominican Republic, India, Mexico, and South Africa, gaining insightful information over the years. Despite saving lives in the cities and countries through these interventions, we noticed that our case-by-case approach could be optimized and save more lives globally.
In July 2019, using all the knowledge we had gained from previous activations, UNITAR and AB InBev launched the “Management Practices for Safer Roads Toolkit,” a resource designed to provide practical solutions to improve existing road infrastructure for the benefit of all road users. Among the features it provides is a checklist to support users in monitoring their Road Safety management progress throughout the different stages of the Toolkit’s “Plan-Do-Check-Act” methodology. The idea behind it all was to equip policymakers, government officials, road engineers, and urban planners with a proven methodology and evidence-based solutions to address road safety issues on a global scale.
Since its launch, our goal has been to incentivize its use around the world and make it more accessible for stakeholders and entities capable of driving change on their community’s roads. Last year, we adapted the Toolkit to a Mobile Learning App – available for both Android and Apple devices – and began its rollout in languages such as English, Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, French, and most recently, Italian. This week, in particular, we’re happy to announce that we will be hosting a virtual workshop with public officials in South Africa to exhibit how to best apply the toolkit to existing challenges facing the country’s roads.
We have a long way to go before we achieve the United Nations Agenda 2030, which seeks access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all, particularly those in vulnerable situations, including women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons (SDG 11.2). We can get there much faster through public and private sector collaboration. This year’s #RoadSafetyWeek theme is #Love30- a global call on policymakers to act for low speed streets where people walk, live and play. This toolkit can provide urban planners with a blueprint to accomplish that precisely, alongside helping prevent other dangerous behaviors such as drinking or texting while driving.
Any company, public official, or urban planner can access this toolkit; we want to get it into as many hands as possible to drive change. This road safety week, my ask to you as a fellow user of the world’s roads is to spread word of this toolkit’s existence. Join us in driving awareness of what’s happening on the world’s roads, and let people know that we have a solution with the potential to save thousands of lives available.
If you’re reading this and have the capacity to use this toolkit, I invite you to send me an email or message on LinkedIn. I’m always happy to help.
All my best,