By Rubén Aranda, Aleatica Global Safety Director
Mexico City, June 2021 – People’s physical safety is a central objective in mobility, but if the efforts in this area are not accompanied by a proactive strategy that establishes preventive measures and clear targets, it is all just wishful thinking.
In my role as the individual responsible for safety matters for a smart transport infrastructure operator, every day I face the challenge of identifying and reducing risks. This requires a 360° analysis that includes three key factors: the vehicle and its maintenance, the driver and their physical and mental condition, and the roadway infrastructure.
This year, the UN’s new Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021-2030) got underway. The goal of this initiative is to reduce the number of deaths and serious illnesses caused by roadway accidents by 50%, and the Mexican government has indicated its support for these efforts. The UN has stressed that road accidents are a concerning public health issue and that most of the deaths are preventable. One of the recommendations is to limit the speed in urban centers to 30 kilometers per hour, a measure that, when implemented in cities like Bogota, has reduced accident mortality by 32%.
It is clear that there is still much to be done in Mexico and around the world to improve road safety. According to the National Institute of Public Health (INSP), Mexico is ranked seventh around the world in the number of deaths caused by road accidents, with an alarming average of 24,000 deaths per year. Roadway accidents are the number one cause of death among children and young people between the ages of 5 and 29, and the fifth among the population in general. There is obviously much room for improvement.
For us, safety is always our top priority and we know that it is not something that can be achieved without promoting teamwork. Progress requires coordination between the private sector, the government, civil society and the communities the roads pass through in order to create optimal conditions and offer safe roads.
As an example of this, in our company we have established an Accident Reduction Program for our operations at the global level with five-year goals that contribute to the objectives defined by the UN under the Decade of Action. This plan involves a comprehensive global investment in technology, infrastructure and education of more than 2.5 billion pesos from 2020 to 2024. Without a doubt, it would not be possible to improve roadway safety without the cooperation of our allies: the Red Cross and the authorities in the areas where we operate highway infrastructure.
When we talk about road safety and accidents on the roadway, we often fail to consider the risks and accidents that the roadway workers are exposed to when performing work under conditions that expose them to live traffic on a daily basis. That is why, for us, protecting our workers is also a priority, and we have implemented improvements in the techniques for confining lanes and have invested in equipment to increase the standards in effect to above the level required by all the applicable standards.
Part of our commitment to safety is the use of cutting-edge technology to help us always be aware of what is happening on the roads we operate. At one of our control centers, for example, we have 92 panoramic cameras, weather stations and information panels that allow us to support our users on their trips. Thanks to these factors and the training of our personnel, it takes us an average of only fifteen minutes to assist users involved in an incident, which may be anything from needing a tire change to being involved in a roadway accident.
Road safety is clearly a shared responsibility and cannot be achieved overnight. To make progress at the domestic and international level, we need to promote collaboration between companies, governments and society to create the foundation for increasingly safe and sustainable mobility.