6 May 2019

The Abertis Foundation and UNICEF are to extend to Brazil their global alliance to improve road safety for children

The Abertis Foundation and UNICEF are to extend to Brazil their global alliance to improve road safety for children

  • The second phase of the “Rights of Way” project will focus on highly vulnerable areas in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The programme will directly involve 210 adolescents who will help identify urban mobility daily challenges. The solutions implemented as a result are expected to improve lives of near 4,000 people.
  • Since its beginnings in 2017, the “Rights of Way” project has been underway in countries with high rates of road accidents involving children. It is currently being developed in 65 schools in high-risk areas, and is contributing to improving safety of near 267,000 children. 
  • Road accidents are the main cause of death in children over ten years worldwide. More than 3,000 children are killed or suffer road traffic injuries on the world's roads each day. One of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is to reduce these figures.
  • Brazil is Abertis Group's largest market in terms of kilometres of toll roads managed, with 3,371 km. Its subsidiary Arteris is the country's number-one toll road operator. 
  • Abertis, through the Abertis Foundation, is a member of the United Nations' Road Safety Collaboration Group since last April. It is the first infrastructure company to serve on this committee.

As part of the International Road Safety Week held from 6 to 12 May, the Abertis Foundation and UNICEF have announced that they are to expand their world collaboration partnership to Brazil. The aim is to work through the “Rights of Way” project, which is already underway in other countries, to promote actions in this Latin American country that contribute to encouraging greater road safety and thus to reduce the impact of road accidents on children, as these represent the leading cause of child mortality worldwide.

The programme will focus on highly vulnerable areas in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In both cities (the two major Brazilian cities), thousands of youths face a lack of safe transport options, causing discrimination, violence and misinformation. There is also often several problems relates to infrastructure, such as lack of sidewalks, insufficient traffic lights and few low-speed zones.

The Abertis and UNICEF programme in Brazil is expected to directly engage 210 adolescents, who will collaborate to diagnose and map their daily challenge to arrive to school, access health services, or simply getting around in their everyday activities. These workshops will develop plans and solutions which, once implemented in the territories, can potentially reach 4,000 people locally and improve their lives.

This program also includes a strong communication strategy in each city by means of exhibitions and awareness campaigns which will reach one million people through social media channels. Other features of the programme are training for public officers and the involvement of the local decision makers to advocate for improvements infrastructure and urban mobility.

Sergi Loughney, general manager of the Abertis Foundation, said: “This initiative is an evidence of the success of the alliance between Abertis and UNICEF in fighting road traffic accidents involving children around the world, and an example of the strong commitment of the Group, together with its shareholders and employees, to tackle this scourge”. 

Javier Martos, executive director of UNICEF Spain Committee, said: “With the incorporation of Brazil into this program, we take another step towards safer mobility of thousands of children and young people. Thanks to this partnership with Abertis we are improving infrastructure and increasing the awareness of drivers and pedestrians to reduce the impact of traffic accidents on children".

Rights of Way project

Almost 1.2 million people die each year on the world's roads as a result of road accidents, representing the leading cause of death in children and young people aged over ten worldwide. Each day more than 3,000 children are killed or suffer road traffic injuries on the world's roads, according to the Child Health Initiative.

In this scenario, 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. The Abertis-UNICEF project focuses on alleviating the lack of safe infrastructures, improving the behaviour of drivers and pedestrians (including children), and encouraging compliance with and reinforcement of legislation in regard to children's road safety.

Since its beginnings in 2017, the Rights of Way project has been underway in countries with high rates of road accidents involving children. It is currently being developed in 65 schools in high-risk areas, and is contributing to improving the safety of almost 267,000 children in Jamaica and the Philippines, the countries where the programme began. 

Collaboration with the Institut Guttmann

As part of this partnership, Abertis incorporated a new area of collaboration with the Institut Guttmann, which combines best practices in the prevention of injuries in traffic accidents involving children.

Under this partnership, medical teams specialised in the treatment of neurological injuries (spinal cord injury and acquired brain damage) from the Institut Guttmann travel to the countries identified in this programme to run training sessions and advise local doctors on best practices for the prevention and treatment of injuries sustained in traffic accidents.

The medical centres for the training sessions are selected based on local needs, taking into account the advice of local bodies involved with victim care and the prevention of medical complications.

A global problem

As well as its impact on public health, the effect of road traffic injuries on children directly shapes countries' development: traffic accidents are estimated to account for 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 own only 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 rate of traffic accident deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, while Africa has the highest.

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 are supported by the FIA Foundation, UNICEF has launched 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 and the Abertis Foundation

Abertis is a reference worldwide in the toll-road sector and manages over 8,500 kilometres of high-capacity roads. The Group is active in 15 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Brazil is the Abertis Group's largest market in terms of kilometres of toll roads managed, with 3,371 km under direct management, and number three in revenues. Through its subsidiary Arteris, the Group manages nine toll-road concessions in the country, where it is the leading toll-road operator.

Road safety is a priority for Abertis and its subsidiaries. All the companies in the Group invest continuously in smart technology and engineering to ensure that customers enjoy an outstanding experience when using the toll roads in their network: a safe, comfortable, fast and practical journey.

In its commitment to research and innovation, Abertis combines advances in high-capacity infrastructure with new technologies in order to promote innovative solutions for tackling future mobility challenges.

The Abertis Foundation was created in 1999 as a non-profit organization, with the objective of responding to the impact that the economic activity of the Abertis Group has in the different territories and countries where the Group is present. The Foundation has always given priority to actions related to road safety, environment and social action, in line with the Strategic Plan for Social Responsibility of Abertis and the Abertis Group's commitment to road safety.

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 safe and comfortable journeys.

Abertis, through the Abertis Foundation, has been a member of the United Nations' Road Safety Collaboration Group since last April. Abertis is the first infrastructure company to serve on this committee.

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.

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