The goal of the conference is to highlight some of the topics that were frequently discussed last year in terms of research and technological development connected to human behaviour and traffic safety, to share and disseminate knowledge and to search for successful approaches which significantly improve traffic safety and public health.
A short history and the topics to be discussed
In the beginning it was a letter. Kathy Stewart, the president of ICADTS (the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety) expressed concern that a considerable number of colleagues from Europe were not able to attend the ICADTS 2016 congress in Gramado, Brazil and suggested that some of the topics discussed in Gramado could be highlighted during a smaller meeting in Europe in 2017. The prevention of drink driving is of exceptional importance for Europe and also for the WHO-European region, which includes countries with the highest consumption of alcohol.
New trends in the field of regulation and legalization of marijuana raise a number of questions in terms of the relationship between the right to free choice and the right to security in road transport and in the workplace. In Gramado (1,2), issues and questions related to every day practice were addressed, such as when we are talking only about the user of cannabis and when about the occurrence of an actual reduction in physical and mental capacity due to the effects of cannabis, as well as what the THC blood limits of impairment in frequent users are.
During the 15th Symposium on Alcohol Interlock Programmes in Brussels, organized by the TIRF (Traffic Injury Foundation, Canada) and ETSC (European Transport Safety Council), two of the presentations revealed evidence that the implementation of alcohol interlock programmes has a positive impact on road safety. Not only do they reduce the level of drink driving recidivism but there are also promising signs suggesting a decrease in the number of alcohol-related road traffic accidents and fatalities. In the framework of the ETSC Project SMART (Safer Mobility Across Road Transport), the SWOW (the Netherlands Institute for Research in Road Transport) and a number of important European experts, published a report entitled “Alcohol interlocks and drink driving rehabilitation and the European Union: Best Practice and Guidelines for Member states”. The publication should be presented and explained to all decision makers, who require an understanding of how to get started in the field of legislative and technical requirements for introducing alcohol interlock programmes (3).
2016 was the third consecutive year of poor road safety for many countries in the European Union and certain other countries around the world. In many developed countries, the progress made over decades has stalled. The main causes of road accidents are human behaviour (distraction, alcohol, speed, and failure to use seat belts). In order to reach the EU and/or United Nations strategic target of halving the number of road deaths from 2010 to 2020, additional efforts are required.
The »Vision Zero« or »Towards Zero or »Safe System« approach, with its fundamental shift in road safety philosophy (4), introduces new initiatives and raises fresh challenges for the improvement of traffic safety.
“Safe system” thinking introduces an existence of shared responsibility amongst those who design, build, manage and use roads and vehicles and provides post-crash care to prevent crashes which result in serious injury or death. It represents a new way of looking at and understanding road user behaviour by considering the nature of human errors and acknowledging human fallibility and frailty. It demonstrates that vehicle properties and road side design should be adapted to the road user’s capabilities. Road users will be provided with adequate information and education and, where appropriate, will be deterred from undesirable or dangerous behaviour (e.g. technical systems in vehicles that detect and stop a drunk driver). Adoption of the new philosophy includes rebalancing the road injury prevention efforts from “traditional” behavioural to non-behavioural.New interventions to reduce impaired driving and traffic injuries should follow this paradigm shift.
Dr. Majda Zorec Karlovšek
President, Association Fortox
- ITF (2016), Zero Road Deaths and Serious Injuries: Leading a Paradigm Shift to a Safe System, OECD Publishing, Paris.
DID YOU KNOW?
In January and February 2017 the main cultural events in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, are devoted to the great writer, philosopher and seeker of the truth L.N.Tolstoy. One of his thoughts to remember is:
“It is easier to write ten volumes of philosophy than to put one principle into practice.”