Road Safety in Asia article: Countries Share Best Practices at 10th Annual Road Safety in Asia Conference

Seven hundred seventy seven thousand road traffic deaths or more than half of the road crash fatalities that were reported worldwide in 2010 came from the Asia Pacific region alone. This number was among the alarming statistics highlighted during this year’s Road Safety in Asia conference which was held last August 22 and 23 at The Heritage Hotel in Pasay City.

More than 200 participants from over a dozen Asian countries attended the 10th annual event organized by the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP), the Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership (PGRSP) and the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) to share ideas, experiences and best practices and explore ways to scale up efforts to advance road safety in the region.

“The bulk of the road traffic deaths came from our region or exactly 62 percent of the 1.2 million global road deaths are from Asia Pacific,” reported AAP president and PGRSP Chair Gus Lagman as he presented the findings of the World Health Organization published in the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013.

“The most vulnerable road users are those who are riding motorized 2-3 wheeled vehicles and pedestrians,” Lagman elaborated. “Speeding, drunk-driving, non-wearing of motorcycle helmets, non-wearing of seat belts and non-use of child restraints in vehicles are the common risk factors for these vulnerable road users in Asia.”


Legislation to Promote Road Safety in PH

Among the important guests during the event was Senator JV Ejercito who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

Ejercito cited several bills that he is actively pushing in the Senate, including The Anti-Overloading Act of 2017, the Dash Cam Law and the Child Safety in Motor Vehicle Act of 2017.

The senator campaigned for “the creation of a National Transportation Safety Board that shall investigate and determine the probable cause of road crashes involving all types of vehicles.”

Representative Cesar Sarmiento, who chairs the Philippine Congress Committee on Transportation, talked about the various laws that the House of Representatives recently passed which are now implemented to make roads safer in the Philippines.

The Mandatory Installation of Speed Limiters, Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving, and Anti-Distracted Driving were the legislative initiatives he highlighted.

“In our country, 34 people die on the roads daily. But 34 is not just a number. They are people with names,” Sarmiento said.


Working towards Better Road Safety in Asia

Six workshops were conducted throughout the two-day conference where various projects, best practices and proven interventions were presented to help improve road safety in the region.

Representatives from iRAP shared case studies on projects that turned into successful programs and policies. GRSP talked about the importance of standards in helmets and child restraints as well as effective implementation of policies and advocacies.

PGRSP Secretary General Alberto Suansing shared the various initiatives of the organization as part of the discussion on the role of the private sector and civil society in road safety.

“PGRSP and AAP have opened opportunities for the government sector including inviting them to international conferences on road safety,” Suansing said. “We have continuously partnered with government agencies, private companies, universities, and the media to spread road safety education and coordinate activities to prevent duplication of efforts.”

In closing, GRSP Chief Executive Officer Dave Cliff noted the importance of sharing knowledge and successful experiences to achieve the sustainable developmental goals and save more lives on the road.

“The thing with road safety is, we know what works. We know that 5-star rated vehicles are infinitely safer than 0-star rated cars. We know the benefits of good road safety legislation which deters people from committing actions that lead to road trauma. We know the enormous benefits of a safe road infrastructure and safe road signs and the difference it can make when things go wrong in a road crash. Our work isn’t done. Let us move with purpose and consider the appropriate next steps.”