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Volvo Cars has urged governments and regulators around the world to address deep-rooted road safety inequality between developed and developing nations. Image Credit: Supplied

The 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, hosted by Sweden and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Stochkolm recently, has extended the 2020 target to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by ten more years to 2030. The Stockholm Declaration aims to reduce traffic fatalities by at least 50 per cent over the next ten years, with the goal of eradicating roadway deaths and serious injuries by 2050. .

However, Volvo Cars, which has been one of the pioneers in road safety technology, has urged governments and regulators around the world to address deep-rooted road safety inequality between developed and developing nations. The Swedish automaker says despite progress made in recent decades, official data shows a significant gap in the number of traffic fatalities between both categories of countries.

Each year, an estimated 1.35 million people lose their lives in traffic accidents. While that number on its own emphasizes the need for action, data by the WHO also shows that the risk of road traffic death is more than three times higher in developing countries than in developed countries.

Volvo Cars believes countries should promote safety belt usage by introducing and enforcing seat-belt laws covering both front and rear seats, while also focusing on basic road infrastructure that keeps vulnerable road users separate from motorised traffic.

“Global data shows that there is a significant inequality in road safety,” said Malin Ekholm, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “Those safety gaps need to be addressed through technology, but also by creating and enhancing a global safety culture. We need to understand and address the variation in seat belt usage, while infrastructure should focus on improving the safety of vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists.”

The modern three-point safety belt, first introduced by Volvo Cars in 1959, is the single most important safety feature in a car. It is pointed out that without seat belts, other advanced technological safety features become largely ineffective. The same applies to child restraints, which help to protect children of different sizes. Yet only 105 of the world’s countries have safety-belt laws that cover both front and rear seat occupants, in line with best practice. This is why it is imperative that lawmakers adjust and enforce safety-belt laws to cover all passengers in all vehicles.