Cooperation - private and public sectors, and with civil society

Road safety is traditionally viewed as the responsibility of local or national government. This view is however changing, and it is increasingly recognized that other sectors and organizations can and want to assist in fighting the number of road trauma and that they have something to offer outside the capability of government. In many sectors there is a growing recognition that cross-sector partnerships between business, government and civil society organisations offer the possibility of more innovative and sustainable solutions.

Partnerships with government

Government has the final responsibility for creating an appropriate legislative and social environment to enable road safety to be improved on a continuous basis. But other sectors of society can influence this - whether they are NGO pressure groups representing road crash victims, or a business concerned about the health and safety of its employees. Government also plays the principal role in providing the basic road infrastructure, offer health services – like running hospitals and operational services such as the traffic police. In many low income countries, governments often lack the political will as well as being short of financial and professional resources to tackle road safety issues effectively on their own. This can attract public bodies as they see possibilities of attracting additional resources. Following opportunities are identified for governments working in partnership:

  • Ability to gain political credibility and to improve relationships with communities;
  • Greater transparency;
  • Learn of more appropriate and replicable technical, social and institutional solutions;
  • Leverage funding;
  • Turn lessons into legislation; and
  • Disseminate knowledge and new skills.

Partnerships with communities and NGO’s
Working in partnership with communities and local NGO’s have several benefits. Primarily they are the voice of the people and know exactly where the communities stand and what they want. Community and civil society groups play a very strong role in advocacy being the voice of the people and have long had the ear of governments. In many developing countries the local radio station can, for example, have massive education influence and reach the communities at large. NGO’s or civil society organizations can also provide management and technical input on issues where data has not been collected but the historical memory of the local community can express and point out where the e.g. crashes happens and to whom. In many areas of public health, "top down" intervention alone can have limited effect, whereas community partnership promote a 'sense of ownership', which so often proves to be the key agent for change.

All NGOs recognise that, by entering a partnership, they may be seen as lowering their reputation and perceived as losing independence by accepting funds from, or collaborating with, the private sector or government. They may fear that they will be forced to compromise their values. More information and good examples can be found on the page focusing community based road safety.

Working in partnership with private sector

The private sector has a lot to offer the road safety community. The different ways in which businesses can contribute are by; providing management support and expertise, investing in vehicle safety and improved operating practices, corporate sponsorship, and undertaking research and design.

 A good example of private sector led improvement to road safety is: “Driving for work and “fleet safe” initiatives. Commercial vehicles are estimated to account for 14 percent of all motor vehicles in use globally and in low and middle income countries upwards of 32 percent of vehicles in use. Many commercial companies are working to make their fleets safer to save cost (staff and vehicles), to get responsible reputation (marketing and branding), and to avoid road crashes impacting its programme delivery and service. gTKP is leading the work of FleetSafe - a network of private companies and international organisations with vehicle fleets, including agencies of the United Nations system, to develop and implement policies and practices that will reduce crash risks for vehicle occupants and other road users. ”

The White Paper for Safe Roads in 2050 is the outcome of discussions by members of a task force on work-related road safety who met at Challenge Bibendum Rio de Janiero 2010. The private sector felt they had a specific responsibility to prevent work-related road deaths, took up the challenge of finding practical solutions for achieving zero work-related deaths by 2050 to support the United Nations General Assembly’s proclamation of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. The white paper identifies concrete actions like: that every company should implement the new ISO 39001 Standard on Road Traffic Safety (RTS) Management Systems, that every employee is accountable for reducing work-related road deaths and injuries, that employers should establish and maintain compulsory driver training programs, introduces policies of zero tolerance and that the private sector should lobby to issue minimum safety requirements with regard to the import of second-hand vehicles.

The importance and necessity of working in partnership both between governmental sectors (health, transport, education, enforcement) and between government, business sector, and NGO’s are recognized in the World Report on road traffic injury prevention, OECD report on ambitious road safety targets, the World Bank’s Country Guidelines for the Conduct of Road Safety Management Capacity Reviews and finally by the UN General Assembly in its recent road safety resolutions including the Moscow Declaration from the First Ministerial Conference.