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Road Safety is a priority says UN Special Envoy Print E-mail
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Thursday, 17 August 2017 00:00

While the Belize Road Safety Project is about to come to an end, a visit by a United Nations delegation last week has underscored a commitment to keep road safety in Belize as a top priority. On Thursday, August 10th, the Government of Belize, through the Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum, received the United Nations Special Envoy for Road Safety Mr. Jean Todt. Special Envoy Todt and his team are in Belize to meet with the Road Safety Unit, as they prepare to launch the Road Safety Project’s national communications strategy.

In 2013, the Government of Belize launched the Road Safety Project, which sought to achieve a 20% reduction in injuries and fatalities resulting from Road Traffic Accidents along the ‘Belize City - Belmopan Corridor’ within three years.

The project is a part of a larger Road Safety Master Plan 2030, which is aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development target, to halve the number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020.

During his travel last Thursday to Belmopan, Jean Todt saw for himself the work that has been done so far on the Demonstration Corridor. Such a visit is important since Todt is also the President of the International Automobile Federation FIA.

At the United Nations Development Program UNDP Conference room in Belmopan, Todt described to reporters the work that has been achieved so far.

“We know the prescription on road safety surrounds education and there is some education for the citizens in Belize, but more can be done. Law enforce-ment: I feel it’s really the weakest point from what I have heard; we need to have stronger law enforcement on the road. Road infrastructure we just spoke about; vehicles, are too poor and Belize should have access to more modern vehicles and we need to be able to give Belize road users electronic-stability control; with safety belts in the front, the rear, with airbags and unfortunately, sometime there is [a number] of cars which are forbidden to be used in developing countries so it has to stop; and post-crash care; clearly post-crash care remains still a weak point even though things has been done.”

Todt’s rigorous prescription for road safety was clear, “… Helmets, speeding is still not enforced as it should be, drunk driving, I mean if a driver is taken driving being drunk he should go to jail and his car should be taken away, or his motorbike...texting and driving is also very dangerous and should be more policed.”

According to Todt, Belize’s road infrastructure has to be assessed and the progress cannot solely be judged from the progress on eighty or a hundred-kilometer road. Nevertheless; he is encouraged on the input by the Government of Belize and all others who have participated in the Road Safety Project such as the Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Faith Cunningham, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer from the Belize Road Safety Project has told reporters that between the roundabout at Belize City and the roundabout on the George Price Highway leading to the Hummingbird Highway,

“Well at the beginning of the Project we were at roughly 50% of the accidents occurring on the demonstration corridor and over the past four years we have seen a drastic reduction where it had reduced to as you heard earlier 10%.”

The Road Safety Project concludes in February of next year and it’s Director Pamela Scott is confident on the way forward.

“Every life is important in Belize and working together we can all contribute to save lives from road traffic crashes. As someone said before, ‘A life lost is a life too many!’ Let’s join together in an effort towards zero deaths from road traffic crashes!”