Measuring road safety performance through regional observatory in Latin America
Abstract: The epidemic of road injury in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries is rising at an alarming rate (40percent increase in 2010 compared to 1990) and is now one of the leading causes of death among young adults as confirmed by recent global reports on road safety. Besides being a major public health burden, road injury also burdens the economy, costing Low and Middle-Income countries around 2 percent to 5 percent of their annual Gross Domestic Product, or GDP. To address this issue there is global recognition of the need for a systemic approach in road safety management and coordination. However, it is crucial to realize that the lack of reliable and comprehensive surveillance data impedes the prioritization of road safety among other national development challenges and priorities. Recent road safety reports have highlighted the shortcomings in the existing data systems prevalent in developing countries. The under-reporting of road death statistics by government agencies may be as high as over 100 percent of the actual numbers. To illustrate the World Bank’s effort and engagement towards addressing this challenge, this note highlights the development of the first regional road safety data observatory in the LAC region fostered through twinning training arrangements among the Ibero-American countries. The goals of the effort have been to improve capacity for harmonized collection of road injury data, improve sharing of data among relevant stakeholders, and build knowledge to guide policy making and targeted public health interventions. Countries committed to the UN decade of action for road safety and its 2020 target for reducing road deaths must ensure technical expertise, in-country capacity and ownership to maintain road safety data systems adhering to international best practice standards.