Decade of Action for Road Safety: The George Institute, Driving Down Road Injury

The Decade of Action for Road Safety will be launched in Sydney on Wednesday 11 May. The George Institute is a supporter of this global initiative which was announced by the UN General Assembly in 2010 with the aim of halving projected global road traffic deaths over the next ten years.

Led internationally by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the goals of the Decade of Action for Road Safety are to save five million lives, 50 million serious injuries and the equivalent of US$5 trillion. Low income and middle income countries are the most impacted by road accidents, accounting for 90% of all road-traffic deaths, despite fewer vehicles in these countries.

In Australia, The George Institute has just commenced a large study led by Professor Rebecca Ivers, Director, Injury Division, about driving safety in Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal Australians are twice as likely to die in a road crash and are up to 40% more likely to be injured.

Professor Ivers commented, “Factors such as less access to emergency services, poor roads and older, less safe cars combined with complex social and cultural issue all contribute to significantly higher than average injury and mortality rates among Aboriginal communities. This study, conducted in collaboration with Aboriginal communities, aims to take an in-depth look at the role of these factors in road crashes and how we can make changes to start reversing these trends.”   

Through the Decade of Action for Road Safety, Member States, with the support of the international community, commit to actions in areas such as developing and enforcing legislation on key risk factors: limiting speed, reducing drink-driving and increasing the use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets.

Efforts will also be undertaken to improve emergency trauma care, upgrade road and vehicle safety standards, promote road safety education and enhance road safety management generally.

Internationally, The George Institute is leading studies in India about the country’s ever increasing traffic volume and its economic and social impact. In China, The George is involved in a study examining the effectiveness of a training programme for novice drivers in Beijing. In Vietnam, a study by The George Institute is examining the economic cost of road injury.

Without a concerted effort and a planned, coordinated approach, road-traffic injuries are predicted to be the fifth leading cause of death by 2030. The George Institute welcomes the Decade of Action for Road Safety and encourages further research, support and promotion to help achieve the goals set by WHO.