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4th IRF Caribbean Regional Congress: Shaping a Regional Message on Road Safety

May 5, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica - The International Road Federation opened the 4th IRF Caribbean Regional Congress today with wide-reaching discussions on fostering a common culture of road safety, environmental sustainability and resilient road design across the region's 30 nations and territories.

The IRF's regional congress coincides with the start of the 3rd UN Global Road Safety Week, an initiative aimed at fostering discussion and awareness-raising in over 100 countries.

"The timing of the IRF Congress has special significance for us, as we are reminded of the need today to strive to create safe and smart infrastructure, ramp up public awareness, and promulgate road safety legislation in Jamaica," noted Minister Morais Guy in his opening address. "As a Government we are resolute in lowering the fatalities on our roads, and we will be playing our part in fulfilling the mission of the IRF to encourage and promote safer road networks."

According to World Health Organization statistics, many nations in the region experience road traffic deaths at a rate well above 50 per 100,000 vehicles, 7 times higher than countries that have embraced the "safe system" approach and translated it into sophisticated road safety programs.

"We need the right signage, the right infrastructure and the right maintenance," National Transportation Safety Board representative Nicholas Worrell noted, "but we also must change unsafe driver behavior to reduce roadway deaths and injuries. In many ways our efforts depend on changing people's hearts and minds about road safety culture."

Speaking for the UN Environmental Program, Liana Vetch drew attention to the plight of non-motorized traffic who collectively account for 27% of road traffic deaths. Many countries have yet to adopt specific policies and instruments aimed at ensuring roads can be safely shared by all users, she noted.

Rising road deaths are not an inevitable by-product of growing mobility in the region. Caribbean Development Bank representative Glen McCarvell noted encouraging progress on Belize's roads supported by an innovative CDB project to strengthen the country's road safety management capacity, enhance the safety of its road infrastructure, and improve post-crash care.

IRF President & CEO C. Patrick Sankey remarked: "The wealth of ideas and experiences shared on the opening day of the Congress underscores the irreplaceable role of the IRF in promoting an agenda of shared prosperity that flows from accessible, affordable and safe road networks. As the international community prepares for major summits on safety and climate change in November 2015, this Congress is a unique opportunity to shape the region's contribution."

The 4th IRF Regional Caribbean Conference, which runs May 4-6, is hosted by Jamaica's Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing with support from the Caribbean Development Bank.
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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 network in 117 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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