GOTHENBURG, Sweden – Volvo Cars has called on governments and regulators around the world to address a large inequality in road safety between developed and developing economies. Despite progress made in recent decades, official data shows a significant gap in the number of traffic fatalities between both categories of countries.
Each year an estimated 1.35-million people are killed by in traffic crashes – a number Volvo believes underscores the need for action. However, data from the World Health Organisation which also shows that the risk of road-traffic death is more than three times higher in developing countries than in developed countries.
It’s data that could apply directly to South Africa.
Volvo Cars believes countries should promote crash-mitigation restraints with laws covering all seats. Basic road infrastructure that keeps vulnerable road users separate from traffic should be another key focus area.
The ”call for action” comes as a third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, hosted by Sweden and the WHO, is happening in Stockholm (Feb 19 2020, this week.
Delegates from 80 United Nations member states will discuss the future strategic direction for global road safety up – and perhaps beyond – 2030.
Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars’ Safety Centre, told The Corner: “Global data shows significant inequality in road safety. Such gaps require not only technology but also a global safety culture. We must address the variation in seat-belt use nd infrastructure should focus on improving safety for road users, pedestrians, and cyclists.”
Volvo says it is keen to contribute to global road-safety initiatives through its rich wealth of safety knowledge, as it has done for many decades in collaboration with governments, academia, and regulators. For example, in 2019 it launched an open database containing decades of safety-related research.
‘WE NEED UN AID’
Ekholm again: “Volvo Cars has a long tradition in improving safety through collaboration, crucial for our leadership in safety. Creating a better understanding of the value, and need for, adequate basic protection is crucial,. We need the help of the UN and national lawmakers to address this through legislation and information.
”Volvo Cars looks forward to contributing to this.”
The automaker says the modern three-point seat belt, introduced by Volvo in 1959, is the single most important safety feature in a car. ”Without it, other advanced technological safety features become largely ineffective; an auto-brake function is much less effective if people inside the car do not wear a belt to keep them in their seat.
”The same applies to child restraints to protect children.”
CYCLISTS, PEDESTRIANS, TOO…
However, Volvo claims, only 105 countries have seat restraint laws for all seats. ”Volvo Cars calls on the UN to urge lawmakers around the world to adjust and enforce seat-belt laws to cover all vehicle occupants.”
Cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists make up more than half of global road deaths so Volvo Cars recommends that UN member states also focus road-safety spending on, for example, clearly delineated pedestrian and cyclist lanes with barriers to protect these most vulnerable road users.
By promoting such affordable and easy-to-realise infrastructural changes that keep motor vehicles away from pedestrians and cyclists.
Since the 1960s data from crash investigations by Volvo Cars has helped Swedish road authorities to introduce new safety features such as deformable lamp-posts, updated guard-rail designs, and walkways separated from the roads.