As the world’s largest brewer and a major user of roads around the world, we are committed to delivering safer roads for all. This is a deeply personal issue for us as our 180,000 colleagues and their families travel the world’s roadways every day. We share the UN Sustainable Development Goal’s ambitious target of halving the global number of deaths and injuries from traffic crashes by 2020.
In 2014, we helped to found Together for Safer Roads (TSR), an innovative coalition of private sector companies tackling road safety through data, technology and global networks in cities around the world. TSR is already seeing progress through its programs and saving lives worldwide.
We talked to David Braunstein, President of TSR, about how to influence behavior change, big data revelations and the autonomous vehicle revolution.
What does TSR focus on to achieve road safety?
We’re aligned with the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety’s Five Pillars, developing programs that focus on road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users and finally, post-crash response time. Essentially, working towards a future where road traffic collisions are no longer one of the leading causes of death and injuries worldwide. Together with our member companies’ insight, we’re advancing safer cities, tech, policies and fleets to make that happen.
What is the scale of the problem?
Every year, about 1.35 million people are killed and 50 million are injured on the world’s roads. That’s huge – but these losses are preventable, not inevitable.
What have been some of our landmark initiatives and projects together?
Some of our earliest projects are the work that has propelled us forward, thanks to the help of AB InBev’s leadership. Our work in the state of São Paulo grew from a handful of cities to more than 200 cities in the program. The partnership with local government led to 16% reduction in fatalities since 2015, and AB InBev had a significant role in bringing the coalition to Brazil to participate in that project.
We’re looking forward to doing more work in North and South America. Chicago, Houston, Mexico City and New York are all in the pipeline – so hopefully we can replicate those results and focus our efforts on the rest of the world.
What are some of the economic and societal costs of poor road safety?
Road crashes affect not only the individual, but their family. Whether it’s a fatality or a serious injury, it can change their family’s future in terms of economic and social wellbeing forever. If you convert social impact to dollars, the costs add up quite quickly. Plus, this problem affects young individuals more so than any other segment of society. So now we’re not only losing people who are dear to us, but those who haven’t had a chance to fully experience life. That’s a dramatic loss to society and we owe it to ourselves to tackle this issue.
What impact will Autonomous Vehicles (AV) have on safety for pedestrians and drivers?
The AV movement is investing billions in technology that can accelerate road safety. Some of those technologies are making their way into the market through other means because companies are not able to wait for the full deployment of AVs in order to become self-sustaining businesses. LIDAR technology (Light Detection And Ranging), for example, can enter the marketplace as a retrofittable crash avoidance technology long before we have a critical mass of autonomous cars on the road. It’s like the space race, many things involved in getting us to the moon entered the market place and paid dividends.
When AVs do arrive, the beauty of these vehicles is, they won’t break the speed limit. Speed management is a huge part of road safety and as they’ll be programmed to keep to the limit, speeding for this segment of road users may become a thing of the past.
How is TSR data and analysis informing and improving road safety?
Our work has to be based on the facts on the ground. Recently, we found that in the Gulfton neighborhood of Houston, local survey data on near-misses was fairly well aligned with crash data, so we’re now using that to potentially create a scalable unit of analytics. We think that near-miss analysis could be ground-breaking for many communities as they seek new tools to proactively head off crashes, injuries and fatalities.
How do we make safe driving and road safety the cultural norm?
It can take a generation to change social norms and behaviors. However, the adoption of services like Lyft and Uber shows how attitudes towards new modes of transportation can shift incredibly quickly. And the adoption rate of shared, electric scooters has been even faster than ride sharing. Beyond technology, there’s also a greater acknowledgement that we need to stop designing cities for vehicles and build them for people instead. As practical as it is for many to own a vehicle, cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam are doing so well because they’ve returned to a more people-centric approach to mobility. More and more cities are embracing the Vision Zero movement which begins to rethink the primacy of the automobile. Re-contextualizing cars will take one of the major factors out of the equation from an impaired driving stand point.
Why are public-private partnerships necessary to achieve the UN SDGs?
The public sector will readily admit they have limited resources and it’s beneficial to civil society to have businesses engage in new ways. While the public sector has great knowledge about the stewardship of public spaces and transportation systems, they’re not always aware of the developments in data, analytics, technologies, or other ways to collaborate that will change important dynamics in a multi-modal mobility ecosystem.
The private sector has many complimentary capabilities and skill sets to bring new opportunities to the public sector, for public good. And when we activate our extensive business networks and supply chains, we have a great opportunity to create leveraged change. For me, that’s where it starts to get interesting – not just from a funding or resource perspective, but from a talent and business network standpoint when you have new ways to solve problems.