International Seminar "Road Safety in Low to Middle Income Countries"

18-20 May 2021, Tunis (Tunisia)

The International Seminar on Road Safety in Low to Middle Income Countries was held in Tunisia from 18 to 20 May 2021.

The seminar was jointly organised by PIARC via its Technical Committee 3.1 Road Safety, the Tunisian Road Association (ATR), the Tunisian Ministry of Equipment, Housing and Infrastructure (MEHI) and the Tunisian Ministry of the Interior via its national road safety observatory (ONSR).

Preparatory documents for the Workshop


Summary and Conclusions of the Workshop

The World Health Organization’s 2018 global status of road safety report (WHO 2018) shows that the number of road traffic deaths continues to rise, reaching 1.35 million on average per year. This report highlights the fact that road accidents are now the main cause of death among children and young people aged between 5 and 29.

Furthermore, the risk of dying in a road accident remains three times higher in low to middle income countries than in high income countries. The rates are highest in Africa (26.6 deaths per 100,000 population) and lowest in Europe (9.3 deaths per 100,000 population). The number of victims of road accidents and injuries is on the rise, causing human suffering, grief and losses, and slowing down the economic growth of LMICs.

Review of Road Safety in Tunisia

Tunisia has one of the highest death rates in the region, with a current rate of 24.4 deaths per 100,000 population. In 2016, the WHO carried out an analysis of traffic accidents in Tunisia and revealed that around 50% of the deaths caused by traffic accidents involve vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists). In addition, the number of pedestrians killed in road accidents accounts for around 25% of this population.

Following the creation of the Tunisian Road Association (ATR) as the Tunisian PIARC National Committee, some Tunisian experts have been appointed as members of PIARC’s technical committees. Against this backdrop, two Tunisian members are currently active in Technical Committee TC3.1 Road Safety. Since their appointment, these experts have been involved in the committee’s efforts to define special strategic, tactical and operational solutions and to come up with effective countermeasures for low to middle income countries (LMICs), two fundamental working axes for PIARC’s working groups for these countries which account for 90% of serious and fatal accidents worldwide.

Organisation of the International Road Safety Seminar in Tunisia

The 24 speakers at the international road safety seminar

Aware of the need for international support to improve road safety, the ATR requested and obtained PIARC’s approval to organise an international road safety seminar in Tunisia. The country thus hosted the first international seminar, which was organised online by PIARC from 18 to 20 May 2021 as a result of the current pandemic. This seminar entitled “Road safety in low to middle income countries (LMICs): solutions and countermeasures” was jointly organised by PIARC via its Technical Committee TC3.1 Road Safety, the Tunisian Road Association (ATR), the Tunisian Ministry of Equipment, Housing and Infrastructure (MEHI) and the Tunisian Ministry of the Interior via its national road safety observatory (ONSR). The seminar took place in parallel with the Sixth UN Global Road Safety Week.

The three-day seminar was organised into six sessions focusing on strategies, special solutions, countermeasures, audits, technical guides and manuals, research, training, etc. 23 presentations highlighted various approaches and effective tools to reduce the risk of accidents in LMICs.

This virtual seminar was attended by representatives from 94 countries spanning 4 continents, with a significant presence from Arabic, African, Latin American and Asian countries. It was an opportunity to share experiences and knowledge and to forge a professional road safety network.

More specifically, the presentations on the objectives fixed by the United Nations for the second Decade of Action on Road Safety and the “zero vision” and “safe system” approaches created great synergy between the talks. 

The other presentations focused on good practices, special solutions, codes of good practice for audits, the latest tools and analyses of relevant case studies.

These topics were discussed at length and were even considered as new techniques requiring institutional and legislative support for their implementation in LMICs. 

This seminar was a great opportunity to present PIARC’s online road safety manual to the 600 participants as well as the audit check-lists and manual and the other tools created by the development banks and research institutes. It was also a chance to present some new star-based road assessment methods which are increasingly being used at global level.

The Chosen Action Plans and Recommendations

Following this event, the local authorities in charge of road safety initiated new deliberations, discussions and analyses of the current context and hope to soon start implementing the ideas discussed with the support of local and international partners. This seminar led to the conclusion that fragmented approaches achieve very little when up against the scourge of accidents and unless efforts are standardised in advance, no action can be effective. These approaches should be taken transversally between the various partners and should be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive.

More specifically, road professionals – who are mindful of their role in offering safe roads, safe speeds and an environment that forgives human error – were very attentive and involved in this event. They will be given the support they need to use innovative methods to assess the state of the national road network regarding road safety and to put forward medium/long-term action plans to reduce the severity of certain accident-prone configurations. This will implement the proactive approaches discussed during the seminar, using the latest models in terms of the prediction, treatment and implementation of effective countermeasures both on road platforms and in their immediate vicinity.

The seminar highlighted international guidelines and standards and will provide an opportunity to further analyse certain key concepts, particularly with regard to inspecting road networks, investigating accident research databases and directing budgets by means of optimised objectives. In LMICs, budgets tend to be overridden by many other prerogatives, therefore comprehensive discussions and readjustments are needed to take into account road safety as a quantifiable economic loss that requires more than profitable investments.

This seminar enabled participants with different profiles (designers, auditors, researchers and students) to make effective use of new technologies and recent road safety approaches.

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