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The number of road fatalities in the Arab region in 2013 increased by 1.05% compared with 2010, while it should have declined by 9.3% to achieve results consistent with the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.

It Is in this context that a regional workshop on road safety management in the Arab countries was held on 27 and 28 November 2018 in Beirut, Lebanon, under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Mr. Jean Todt. The workshop, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the World Bank, addressed issues of road safety management in line with United Nations guidelines and international best practices.

The workshop was opened by Mr. Jean Todt, alongside the World Bank Regional Director, Mr. Saroj Kumar Jah; Dr. Ramzi Salamah, Secretary of National Council for Road Safety (NRCS) in Lebanon and ESCWA Acting Executive Secretary, Mr. Mounir Tabet.

“While there is progress being made, in Lebanon and in all your countries, we cannot ignore that this region suffers from some of the highest road fatality rates”, the Special Envoy emphasized the urgency to tackle the road safety issues in the region in his opening remarks, “Road crashes resulted in 72,000 deaths in 2013 in the region. It has an average fatality rate of 21 per 100,000, compared to world average of 17, and to EU rate of 5. Lebanon is at 23”. 

A number of recommendations were issued during the workshop, most notably a proposal to establish a regional observatory that coordinates and facilitates national data, implement or activate national Systems for road safety management, including national lead agencies and coordination mechanisms, in addition to enhancing cooperation between various stakeholders. “This observatory will be the official reference for the road crashes statistics and all matters related to road safety,” Dr. Ramzi Salamah explained, "We also established a road safety observatory in cooperation with private sector companies that will hopefully fill gaps in the region and attract researchers from various universities in Lebanon and interested parties.”  

During the workshop, ESCWA presented the results of the surveys conducted and the data found in the second half of 2018 on road safety management. The UNECE also presented the Global Framework for Road Safety Action Plan, in which regional and national action plans were to be developed in harmony.

The workshop gathered 70 participants representing 16 countries, among them high-ranked officials from the Ministries of Transport and Ministries of Interior from Arab States. The participants agreed on an outcome document highlighting the key priorities for road safety management in the region through 2020.

The workshop came within the framework of the 19th meeting of the ESCWA Committee on Transport and Logistics, which started on 26 November and emphasizes, in addition to road safety, on the urgent need for concerted Arab efforts to address the changes and their impact on the transport sector and the importance of maritime transport and the  evaluation of Arab economic integration.

Prior to the workshop, the Special Envoy and ESCWA Acting Executive Director opened an exhibition to raise awareness about road safety issues such as the use of seatbelts and the consequences of getting distracted or being under the influence while driving. The exhibition was held in association with Saint Joseph University in Beirut (USJ), the Internal Security Forces (ISF) of Lebanon, the Lebanese Red Cross, the Yaza and Kunhadi organizations, the George Khoriaty Foundation (GNK) and other government agencies as well as non-governmental organizations specialized in road safety.