The International Road Federation (IRF) is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organisation with the mission to encourage and promote development and maintenance of better, safer and more sustainable roads and road networks. The participating organizations are working nationally and internationally to prevent road traffic injuries. With the upcoming Rio+20 they summon governments to put sustainable transport and road safety at the heart of a future sustainable development strategy. Every six seconds someone is killed or seriously injured on the world’s roads. Nine in ten of these casualties occur in low-income and middle-income countries, where traffic levels are rapidly increasing. This is a human, economic and environmental disaster.
Last year the United Nations launched the ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020’, concerned that road injury is a ‘major public health problem which…may affect the sustainable development of countries and hinder progress towards the Millennium Development Goals’ (UN General Assembly Resolution 64/2551). More than 100 governments co-sponsored this statement.
In addition to preventing injury, improving road safety can contribute to achieving environmental objectives by providing a safer and more efficient road system for users of non-motorised transport such as pedestrians and cyclists, the most vulnerable road users, and reducing demand for modal shift to the car. According to the UN Environment Programme, such policies can make “a large, lasting impact… n fuel use, congestion, air quality and CO2 emissions… It is also one of the most cost-effective actions for saving hundreds of thousands of lives” (‘Share The Road’, UNEP, 2010)’
The Zero Draft of the Rio+20 communiqué referenced the need for ‘efficient transportation networks’ in sustainable cities. We believe the only efficient network is a safe network designed to protect all the people who use it, beginning with the most vulnerable.