World Bank initiates:
Decade of Action for Road Safety
In 2009, Sri Lanka reported 33,757 road accidents; a number
comparable to Portugal as per International Roads Federation statistics.
The dramatic difference however, is that the number of fatalities in
Sri Lanka was almost three times higher than in Portugal, said World
Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Diarietou Gaye.
The number of fatalities is somehow only the tip of the iceberg. The
Sri Lankan health sector provides care to the injured which is estimated
to be around 100,000 persons every year with more than 80 percent of
them being in the working age.
The dramatic impact on their direct and related families can be
imagined. About 1.3 million people are killed on the road each year, 50
million suffer severe injuries which can leave them disabled for life
and push their families into extreme poverty, she said. It means that
every minute two people are killed and 77 people seriously injured; It
means every three minutes a child is killed in a road crash.
It means that over 3 percent of GDP is lost every year because of
these road accidents, that's almost $520 billion a year in material and
health damage, lost income and other losses.
The World Bank Country Director said that Sri Lanka's partnership
approach should be accelerated to put the brakes on road accidents.
This is not something one individual or an organisation can do alone.
It will take all of us to act together, now.
Improving road safety
Improving road safety is complex and multi sectoral by essence.
Apart from the design of roads, we need to look at vehicle designs,
behavioural aspects, law enforcement, post-crash emergency care and
management and so on. We need therefore to involve Ministries of
Transport, Highways, Health, Education, law enforcement agencies, Trade
and Commerce and Media.
Gaye said that with the Decade of Action for road safety the goal is
to save five million lives and prevent 50 million injuries in developing
countries for an estimated benefit of at least $3 trillion.
Over 100 countries have committed to this ambitious goal and the
foundation has been built. The Decade of Action will help build momentum
and raise awareness among decision makers and the general public. It
will also help us pool resources together to meet the challenge, and
share responsibilities to make a huge impact on saving lives.
The World Bank strives for economic development, poverty reduction,
as well as capital and knowledge transfer. Infrastructure development
such as building roads and investments in the health sector account for
a large portion of our lending portfolio, because they are essential to
Last month, the Bank's President Robert Zoellick announced that the
seven multilateral development banks are supporting the global call for
action through the Multilateral Development Banks Road Safety
This partnership for action will put in place a shared approach to
road safety management and will aim to help the Decade of Action achieve
its ambitious goal.
Through partnership, we are committed to sharing practices and
knowledge to strengthen road safety management capacity. We will work
together on improving infrastructure safety and on road safety
performance measurement. We will also work together to raise the
resources we need to deliver a road safety transformation in our client
In addition, in Sri Lanka we have supported a capacity assessment
through a grant provided by the Global Road Safety Facility. We will
support selected investments from the road safety action plan that will
have a high impact and we will support these through our road and health
In the emerging context of heightened global concern and sharing of
relevant knowledge, Sri Lanka is also presented with a unique
opportunity to harness and adapt international best practices to improve
its road safety results far more rapidly than high-income countries were
able to achieve in the last century.