A range of recommendations to reduce the rising road death toll in the Asia-Pacific were presented to APEC Transportation Ministers today.
The recommendations were developed by the APEC Automotive Dialogue Road Safety Summit held yesterday in the lead-up to the 5th APEC Transportation Ministers Meeting.
The recommendations call for Transportation Ministers to increase cooperation with ministers in other relevant portfolios to develop comprehensive road safety plans in all APEC Member Economies, and that these plans be reviewed in 2008.
The Chair of the APEC Automotive Dialogue, Mr. Peter Sturrock, said the rise in road fatalities is an important issue for APEC considering the correlation between accidents and economic growth.
"Increasing economic prosperity has brought with it rapid growth in the number of cars, trucks and motorcycles on the roads," Mr. Sturrock said.
"More vehicles on the roads has also seen a corresponding increase in the number of road deaths and injuries."
"Places where bicycles and pedestrians once filled the streets are now dominated by cars and motorcycles, but unfortunately safety has not kept pace with this change."
The North America Director of the Make Roads Safe Campaign and moderator of the summit, Dr. T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, said a crucial issue for curbing the road death toll was better planning before new roads are constructed.
"Today we have the knowledge to build roads that have a minimal likelihood of contributing to accidents, but we have to ensure that all economies have the resources to build safer roads.
"When new roads are funded through development projects it is important that this funding includes attention to ensuring that the road is properly planned to minimize accidents.
Dr. Dinh-Zarr said it is also important for governments to be proactive right now in order to increase public awareness of what individuals can do to stay alive on the roads.
"Knowing basic road rules, ensuring that operators of vehicles have good driving skills, understanding the road-related dangers of alcohol and the importance of using helmets and seatbelts are some of the simple solutions to lowering the number of deaths and injuries."
While many APEC economies currently have national road safety plans, most do not have ambitious targets for reduction of road traffic fatalities and injuries. This challenge will be taken up by the APEC Transportation Ministers during their meetings this week.
Coordinated by the APEC Automotive Dialogue, the summit brought together road safety planners, representatives from transportation regulatory bodies and auto industry executives to look at ways to improve road safety.