Research Project

Evaluation of Road Safety Cooperation Between Developed and Developing Countries

Dinesh Mohan

Project Details

Objective

To write a chapter or a section for a GTST report from the perspective of a less motorised society to clarify the reasons for past failures and successes in the sharing of road safety theory and technology and to suggest measures that would make such collaborations more successful in the future.

Methodology

The following materials reviewed:

Papers submitted to journals by LIC professionals and by HIC experts dealing with road safety in LICs. We have in our library many unpublished manuscripts which will also be used as background material.

Proceedings of conferences held in LICs or dealing in particular with LICs, eg. Conferences organised by OECD in Africa and Asia.

HIC country reports and policy papers on road safety. Some are available with us as we have obtained them as consultants to various countries or they have been mailed to us.

Documents and reports submitted by participants at the annual international courses on injury control and road safety held at IIT Delhi every year since 1991.

The above documents reviewed to understand the dominant themes and policies common to most countries and the concerns of policy makers in these countries and what countermeasures they favour. Then an attempt was made to see whether there is any link between these policies and the kind of work that tends to be done in and for these countries by road safety professionals.

Conclusion

Road safety research in the HMCs has involved a large number of very gifted professionals from a variety of disciplines over the four decades. Some very innovative work has resulted in a theoretical understanding of "accidents" as a part of a complex interaction of sociological, psychological, physical and technological phenomena. The results could be exchanged and solutions transferred from one HMC to another because the conditions in these countries were roughly similar. This understanding of injuries and accidents has helped us design safer vehicles,roads and traffic management systems. A similar effort at research, development and innovation is needed in LMCs. A much larger group of committed professionals needs to be involved in this work for new ideas to emerge. Roving "experts" cannot do the job adequately enough.

Knowing the principles of epidemiology is more important for understanding issues than merely the availability of more data. Like all other developments in science and technology, road safety measures in the HMCs developed at certain historical junctures. They have an imprint of the prevailing socioeconomic situation embedded in them. When the HMC policies and designs are transferred to societies which have much lower per capita incomes, then large parts of these policies and designs are not successful. However, the attempt at introducing these measures in LMCs also sets up a demand for instituting systems and technologies which imitate those in HMCs. Since this is not always possible at low levels of income, these projects either attain the status of status symbols without much functional value, or remain in place as demonstration projects. While a few present small LMCs can experience high growth rates for some periods, most of the other countries will continue to function as LMCs for quite some time to come.

International cooperation in the area of road safety should focus on exchange of scientific principles, experiences of successes and failures, and in scientific training of a large number of professionals in the LMCs.

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