The World Health Organization estimates that, without intervention, road traffic crashes could become the fifth leading cause of death globally by 2030, and the United Nations has set a target to halve global deaths and injuries from road traffic collisions by 2020. In many countries where we operate, traffic collisions are a major cause of fatalities, making them a significant issue for our business as well as for society. So we asked ourselves what we could do to help address this critical public health challenge.
In 2014, we came together with other leading global companies to create a coalition called Together for Safer Roads (TSR), which is dedicated to improving road safety and reducing deaths and injuries from road traffic collisions. The coalition has three key focus areas: advancing safer vehicles and roads through data and technology, creating a culture of traffic safety built on a safe systems approach, and raising awareness about the importance of safety.
TSR partners include AIG, AT&T, Republic Waste Services, Abertis, Chevron, Ericsson, Facebook, GM, IBM, iHeartMedia, Octo Telematics, PepsiCo, Ryder, UPS and Walmart, and the coalition is advised by an independent expert panel of eminent leaders in road safety. Together, we are combining our knowledge and expertise to identify and implement solutions that promote safer roads, vehicles and systems and reduce deaths and injuries from road traffic collisions.
Additionally, in 2015 seven of our Latin American operating companies launched the Por un Buen Camino (On the Right Track) campaign. This aims to develop road safety solutions to protect road users, while sharing best practice and lessons learned among governments, the private sector and other interested stakeholders.
The region-wide program builds on a successful initiative that has been run by our Panamanian business, Cervecería Nacional, since 2011. Originally named Respeta la Via, Respeta la Vida (which translates to Respect the Road, Respect Life), the initiative is endorsed by the Panamanian Ministry of Health and is delivered through a partnership of public and private sector bodies including the Traffic and Transport Authority, national police, NGOs, community groups, the beer and spirits industry, and telecommunications and media organizations.
Using a mixture of social and traditional media, as well as messages on Cervecería Nacional’s vehicle fleet, the program deals with topics such as texting while driving, speeding, road infrastructure, vehicle safety and drink-driving. By deliberately highlighting the different kinds of dangerous activities behind the wheel, the program has raised awareness about the causes of road crashes beyond drink-driving, including the two top culprits: speeding and the use of mobile phones while driving.
Since its launch in 2011, the program has helped change behavior and promoted appropriate investment in roads and vehicles in Panama. Between 2010 and 2014 there was a 15% reduction in traffic collisions with injuries. In addition, figures released by the Ministry of Health in 2014 showed that road fatalities had been reduced by 88 between 2010 and 2013, a quantity of saved lives the Ministry cited as “significant and important to society”.
Road safety is one of the most important public health issues of our time. And we believe that by working together, we can improve the safety of roads all over the world.