As the average income rises globally, access to mobility climbs with it – leading to increased accidents and on-highway deaths.
Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) President and United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt, speaking at Michelin’s global summit for sustainable mobility Movin’On in Montreal Tuesday, says countries with a lower average number of vehicles actually have the highest incident of accidents.
“With fewer roads, it’s more difficult to access them safely,” he says, estimating that the number of vehicles globally on the road could balloon to more than 2 billion by 2050. “This is why sharing space is so important. We have to be more innovative in how we design roads. Mobility is a social issue that goes beyond a means of simple conveyance.”
Intelligent road design, Todt says, goes hand-in-hand with improving vehicle safety.
“Eighty percent of vehicles sold do not meet UN vehicle safety guidelines,” he adds, noting many of these transactions take place in developing countries. “Safe mobility also requires safe behaviors. User behavior absolutely has a very big impact [on safe mobility]. Technology is not the only solution. Education is important and awareness as well.”
Road accidents, Todt says, are also a burden on the healthcare sector, causing more than 1 million deaths and 50 million injuries worldwide.
The UN has set a goal to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from on-highway accidents by 50 percent by the year 2020, a target spelled out by the Global Goals for Sustainable Development for the next decade and a half. According to the World Health Organization, accident injuries – including pedestrians – are the top cause of death for people between 15 and 29 years old, and the ninth leading cause of death overall.
“First, we need to determine if we have enough space to share [in order] to move through the way we want to,” Todt says. “For safer roads, we must ensure the application of the law and roadside regulations throughout all the continents.”