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1.6 Billion People Now Covered Globally By New or Improved Road Safety Laws

A groundbreaking Global Road Safety Program in ten countries funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies produced results showing that 1.6 billion people are now covered by strengthened road safety laws, Mayor and philanthropist Michael R. Bloomberg announced today. The initiatives include increased seat-belt and helmet usage, reduced speed limits, drinking and driving enforcement, and improvements in road infrastructure and sustainable transport.

Bloomberg Philanthropies released its first progress report on its Global Road Safety Program, a five-year, $125 million investment to reduce preventable road traffic deaths and injuries. It is projected that at least 12,670 lives will be saved in five years based on the program’s early accomplishments in target countries: Brazil, Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.

The Association for Safe International Road Safety (ASIRT), EMBARQ, Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHBSPH), World Bank Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF), and World Health Organization (WHO) are all partners in the Global Road Safety Program.

Each year, road traffic crashes kill 1.3 million people and between 20-50 million suffer severe injuries. By 2030, the World Health Organization estimates that road traffic fatalities will be the fifth leading cause of death globally.

“The success we have had through our road safety program is saving lives around the world, but there is still more work to be done,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “We look forward to spreading our efforts and contributing to the Decade of Action to reduce preventable road traffic deaths and injuries.”

In 2010, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 in a landmark Resolution co-sponsored by 100 countries to “stabilize and then reduce” global road traffic fatalities. The Bloomberg Global Road Safety Program strives to accelerate progress on the Decade of Action. Results suggest the program initiatives are a major step forward toward global progress on road safety.

2010-2012 Bloomberg Program Highlights from 10 focus countries:

1. 1.6 billion people now covered by new or strengthened road safety laws

2. 13,300 police and public health officials trained on road safety interventions (police officers are trained on enforcement of road safety laws and how to set up safe checkpoints, health professionals are trained on trauma response and police forces and hospital staff are trained on proper data collection)

3. $440 million committed by governments to make road improvements

4. 5,500 miles of high-risk roads have been assessed with improvements recommended to governments

5. 12 media campaigns were initiated reaching 65 million people

Examples of early successes include:

Seat-Belts: Wearing a seat-belt reduces the risk of fatality among passengers in the front seat by 40-50% and 25-75% for those in the back seat. One target country where Bloomberg has been working to increase seat-belt usage is Turkey, where federal law does not require commercial or government vehicle drivers to wear seat-belts.

However, the Governor of Afyon, Turkey issued a local decree in 2012 mandating all drivers to wear seat-belts. Seat-belt usage in Afyon jumped from 4% in 2011 to 49% in 2012.

Speed: Higher speeds lead to an increased risk of a crash and greater probability that someone will be killed or seriously injured.

Following a strong social marketing campaign and increased police enforcement, speeding rates decreased from 32% in 2011 to 9% in 2012 in Dalian, China, and from 47% in 2011 to 33% in 2012 in Lipetsk, Russia.

Drinking and Driving Enforcement: Drinking and driving increases both the risk of a crash and the likelihood that a death or serious injury will occur. The risk of involvement in a crash increases significantly with a blood alcohol concentration above .04%.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, following a strong social media campaign and increased police enforcement, drinking and driving rates dropped from 10% in 2010 to nearly 0% in 2012.

Helmets: Wearing a helmet is the single most effective way of reducing head injuries and fatalities resulting from motorcycle crashes, as it decreases the risk of injuries by 70% and deaths by 40%.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards has recently adopted internationally recognized motorcycle helmet quality standards, another critical component of helmet wearing laws.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to creating healthier, safer lives across the globe, and the road safety program focuses on 10 low-and middle-income countries that account for close to half of the 1.3 million road traffic deaths each year. Ninety percent of road traffic deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries and globally half of all deaths are among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Bloomberg’s program is rooted in the belief that road traffic deaths are preventable with effective, evidence-based interventions, such as increased seat-belt and helmet use, speed reduction, and decreased drinking and driving. The program also focuses on safe sustainable urban transport – achieved by reducing car travel and moving people through safely designed mass transportation and improving high-risk roads through infrastructure improvements including widening shoulder lanes, installing medians, crosswalks and lane markings. Strategies also include support for public efforts to implement effective road safety laws, enhance professional training to enforce laws, create resources for advocacy and hard-hitting mass media campaigns.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies works primarily to advance five areas globally: the Arts, Education, the Environment, Government Innovation and Public Health, which includes Global Road Safety. In 2012, $360 million was distributed. For more information, please visit