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Setting Ambitious Road Safety Requirements: the Role of Development Banks

January 9, 2015


ALEXANDRIA, VA — The International Road Federation recognizes the significant role of the World Bank and other regional Multilateral Development Banks in influencing quality standards for road infrastructure and the broader transport system across all the countries where they operate. By the end of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, it is estimated these institutions will collectively have invested well over US $100 billion in road infrastructure programs across hundreds of individual projects, representing a considerable opportunity to introduce or strengthen risk management practices from the design stage.

The following statement has been prepared by the IRF as an endorsement of two recent publications Making Roads Safer – Learning from the World Bank’s Experience and MDB Road Safety Guidelines.

The International Road Federation recognizes that the global road safety crisis is a complex development issue that requires coordinated and sustained responses across all five pillars of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action. The IRF also considers that safe road infrastructure is a highly cost-effective pathway to the goal of achieving a 50 percent reduction in fatal traffic injuries by 2020.

Emerging economies are rapidly renovating and expanding their road networks to accommodate growing domestic trade and mobility needs. These new roads have enormous potential to stimulate economic growth and lift standards of living, yet can also present risks when key safety considerations are omitted in the design or construction phases.

Preventive risk identification measures, such as road safety audits carried out at the detailed design and pre-opening stages of new or rehabilitated roads, offer a well-established and cost-effective tool to independently review the safety characteristics of road projects, as acknowledged by the World Bank. Considering the MDBs’ development agenda, their ability to leverage public and private sector funds, and their strong ties with national road authorities, the IRF supports the mandatory introduction of, and associated funding for, road safety audits linked to all new MDB road investment loans.

Roads built today are durable assets whose lifespan typically span several decades, over which time the mix and volume of traffic is likely to evolve to a considerable extent creating new safety hazards. To prepare for these changes, road agencies must ensure regular road safety inspections are conducted. Road agencies must also retain well-trained staff with access to up-to-date knowledge resources to implement the findings of these inspections. The IRF encourages road agencies receiving MDB road investment loans to conduct a training gap analysis to determine immediate up-skilling needs, and develop a continuing road safety education program for their staff.


About the IRF: The International Road Federation, founded in 1948, is a not-for-profit, non-political organization with the mission to encourage and promote development and maintenance of better, safer and more sustainable roads and road networks. With a membership network in 90 countries across six continents, the IRF believes it can make a difference by providing best practices and expert advice to today’s multi-faceted world of transport.


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