More than three thousand preventable deaths and many thousands of serious injuries from road trauma occur every day. More than 1.2 million people currently die on the world’s roads each year, with an estimated cost of 2-3% of global GDP. Road fatalities are projected to increase to almost two million by 2020 unless substantial efforts to improve road safety are implemented. The toll is highest in developing countries, where new motorisation is rapid and more than ninety percent of fatalities occur. The social and economic consequences are so significant that road safety has been recognised in the United Nations (UN) sponsored Decade of Action for Road Safety and the draft Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a priority public health issue. If unaddressed, it threatens to impede sustainable development and hinder progress. The actions needed to improve road safety are well understood: build safer roads, improve vehicle safety, reduce speeds and encourage safe road user behaviour. Significant analysis has gone into attributing economic value to the effect these ‘safe system’ interventions can have on reducing crashes and the severity of their consequences. Still, there are major gaps in capacity to deliver the elements for safety in many countries and, critically, in the evidence base that can unlock those elements at scale.
The focus of this paper is to set those foundations for how funding and finance can be directed more consistently to creating safe systems. There are three key sections: The need and imperative for action on road safety; the potential of social impact investment; and how these can be brought together to build the case for investment in road safety and map a way forward.