- Around ten million children sustain injuries or are disabled in road accidents worldwide every year. Over 3,000 people die on the roads every day.
- The first initiatives are being carried out in Jamaica and the Philippines. The initial phase involves 65 high-risk schools and will directly benefit over 265,000 children in both countries.
- Medical teams from the Barcelona-based Institut Guttmann specialising in the treatment of neurological injuries will travel to Jamaica and the Philippines to train local doctors in situ.
Abertis and UNICEF yesterday presented an update on their global collaborative “Rights of Way” project aimed at preventing road accidents involving children worldwide.
The venue for event was the Cervantes Institute in New York and in attendance were Maria Bassols, Spanish Ambassador attached to the United Nations; Ignacio Olmos, director of the Cervantes Institute; Gary Stahl, Director of Private Fundraising and Partnerships of UNICEF; Cornelius Williams, Associate Director & Global Chief of Child Protection of UNICEF; Javier Martos, Executive Director of UNICEF Spanish committee; Josep Maria Ramírez, director of the Institut Guttmann and Sergi Loughney, Abertis' Director of Corporate Reputation and Communication and Director of the Abertis Foundation.
Around 1.25 million people die every year on the world's roads as a result of traffic accidents. The injuries sustained in this type of accident are the main cause of death of children and adolescents aged 10 years and over worldwide. Every day more than 3000 children are killed or suffer road traffic injuries on the world's roads, according to the Child Health Initiative.
In October 2017 UNICEF and Abertis announced an innovative US$ 3 million partnership agreement to tackle the main cause of death in children of school age: road accidents. Spending of $1 million per annum over three years has been committed and the agreement is the most significant focused on child road safety.
The aim of this partnership is to strengthen and scale-up UNICEF’s existing work to protect children on the world’s roads and provide a safe journey to school. UNICEF regards Abertis as a key ally, given the company's steadfast commitment to road safety and its programme of campaigns tailored to the needs of the most vulnerable road users.
With the aim of helping to develop responses at national level to this global challenge, the programme will first be implemented in the Philippines and Jamaica where, as in many other low and middle-income countries, the child road accident rate is a public health issue.
The role of UNICEF
As the world's leading organisation for the survival, protection and development of children with a mandate to protect the Rights of the Child, UNICEF will focus on three core areas:
- Providing safe routes to school through the creation of limited-speed zones, safe infrastructure, awareness-raising and education.
- Guaranteeing safe school transport for every child: through legislation, improving the transportation system and advocacy to improve the safety of transport to and from school (seatbelts, regulations for school buses, etc.).
- Promoting the use of helmets by children (particularly in countries where motorcycles have become the main means of family transport) through awareness-raising campaigns, the provision of helmets, etc.
Initiatives in Jamaica
The Abertis-UNICEF project is focused on 15 high-risk schools and benefits around 12,500 children.
In partnership with the National Road Safety Council and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the priorities are the creation of safe areas around schools (zebra crossings, signaling, etc.); establishing student clubs to promote road safety; and institutional strengthening at different levels, organising awareness-raising campaigns.
- Institutional collaboration began in the public sector with a Safe Schools Workshop in February 2018.
- In June, during Road Safety Month, a road safety plan was launched.
- In July 2018, UNICEF launched the Child Road Safety Report in conjunction with National Foundation of Jamaica, which identifies the high-risk schools in the country based on geographical location and the accident and fatality rates in each area. Refurbishment and reconstruction work is scheduled to start shortly in three of these schools.
- Junior Clubs of the Jamaica Automobile Association have been set up in 8 schools. These clubs will play a pivotal role in children's road safety since their main purpose is to raise awareness among students.
Initiatives in the Philippines
This project is focused on 50 high-risk schools and will benefit around 250,000 children directly and 20 million potentially as a result of the experience that the public authorities will gain from this project.
The principal activities, carried out in partnership with the Health and Education Ministries, are the development of educational and awareness-raising materials for students, parents and the general public; the improvement of the national road safety system (cross-referencing of existing data, analysis of current legislation, tracking methods, development and inclusion of road safety indicators for children); and analysis of the national strategy with the different groups involved.
- In August the location of the first pilot scheme was established: Zamboanga City, on the island of Mindanao. This initiative will cover 39 schools.
- Key players are involved in the implementation of the national child road accident prevention programme of the Department of Health.
Collaboration with the Institut Guttmann
Within the framework of this agreement, Abertis has incorporated a new area of collaboration with the Institut Guttmann, which will combine the best practices of the three institutions in the prevention of injuries in traffic accidents involving children. Two medical teams from the Institut Guttmann specialising in the treatment of neurological injuries (spinal cord injuries and acquired brain damage) will travel to different countries to carry out training sessions and advise local doctors on best practices for the prevention and treatment of injuries sustained in traffic accidents.
The teams will initially visit hospitals in the Philippines and Jamaica, countries included in the UNICEF-Abertis agreement where, as in many other low and middle-income countries, the child road accident rate is a public health issue. There are plans to increase the number of countries that benefit from this agreement in future.
Selection of the medical centres for the training sessions will be based on local needs and take into account the advice of local bodies involved with victim care and the prevention of medical complications. In the case of Jamaica there will be collaboration with the Association of Orthopaedic Physicians, while in the Philippines work will be carried out with the traumatology services of major medical centres in Manila and other provinces.
A global problem
As well as their impact on public health, the affect of road traffic injuries on children directly shapes the development of countries: traffic accidents are estimated to have a cost of 3% of GDP, with economic losses in low- and middle-income countries equivalent to 5% of GDP.
Low- and middle-income countries account for 90% of the world’s deaths in traffic accidents, although people in these countries only own around half of the world’s vehicles. The risk of dying on roads also depends to a large extent on where people live: Europe has the lowest number of traffic accident deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, while Africa has the highest rate.
UNICEF is a key member of the Child Health Initiative, with which it works to ensure a safe journey to school for all children within the framework of the Sustainable Development Objectives. In addition to Jamaica and the Philippines, which have support from the FIA Foundation, UNICEF has started child road traffic injury prevention programmes in China, Cuba, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Africa and Vietnam.
Road safety is included in two of the Sustainable Development Goals (3.6 and 11.2), and the priority of a "safe journey to school for all children" is a commitment of the United Nations New Urban Agenda - Habitat III.
Abertis is the international market leader in the toll road sector, with over 8,600 kilometres of high-capacity roads under management and a presence in 15 countries in Europa, the Americas and Asia.
Road safety is of paramount importance for Abertis. The Group invests continuously in smart technology and engineering to ensure that customers enjoy the best experience when using the toll roads in its network: safe, comfortable, fast and practical.
Committed to research and innovation, Abertis combines advances in high capacity infrastructure with new technologies with the aim of promoting innovative solutions to face the challenges of future mobility.
Abertis Road Safety programme
The Abertis Road Safety programme benefits from the company's more than 60 years of know-how and experience in this field. With the mission of providing 100% safe roads, Abertis strives to ensure that drivers enjoy comfortable and safe journeys.
Abertis has become the first private toll road operator to collaborate globally with the International Road Assessment Programme, promoting its “forgiving roads” scheme by applying the very highest standards of road safety. iRAP is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to saving lives through safer roads. It employs a scientific methodology and predictive tools recognised by prestigious institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank.
Abertis works with numerous public and private institutions to design, develop and finance awareness-raising and road safety training programmes aimed primarily at the most vulnerable groups (children, adolescents, the elderly and disabled people). It also finances road safety research in six leading universities around the world through its network of academic chairs.
In 2017, Abertis became the first company to join Waze's "Connected Citizens" project, implemented across 7 countries. This partnership will allow bi-directional sharing of real-time traffic information that drivers update in the Waze application, with the data collected in the Abertis operations centres in seven countries. It provides a new channel to offer updated information to Abertis Group customers on its toll roads, fostering safer and more efficient driving, with fewer accidents and lower emissions.
About the Institut Guttmann
The Institut Guttmann is a hospital specialised in the medical-surgical treatment and comprehensive rehabilitation of persons with spinal cord injuries, acquired brain damage and other neurological disabilities. Its main objective is to provide specialised, comprehensive, continuous and personalised care, of the highest human, scientific and technical level.
Its characteristic healthcare model, based on the intervention of a multidisciplinary expert team, the human and technical quality of its professionals, and the scientific rigor with which it carries out its activity, together with its modern facilities and the continuous incorporation of the latest technologies, make the Institut Guttmann one of the leading hospitals in the world in its specialty, neurorehabilitation.