1.25 million people die in traffic collisions each year. We know how to improve road safety, but it’s not a priority for most cities. Why? Experts dive into the politics to explain.


An estimated 1.25 million people are killed and a staggering 50 million are injured in traffic collisions each year. Yet road safety remains a remarkably low political priority in cities around the world. Both politicians and the public tend to blame individual road users for traffic crashes rather than ineffective policies or shortsighted urban planning. Many officials even see road safety as an issue in direct conflict with other pressing concerns, such as reducing congestion or shortening journey times.

Cities’ failure to break through the politics and prioritize road safety disproportionately impacts poorer residents who tend to use more vulnerable means of transport, like walking, cycling or motorcycling. Those who can least afford it end up bearing the brunt of lost wages, hospital bills or interrupted education.

But research from WRI and Overseas Development Institute shows that it is possible to balance competing priorities and save lives by reframing road fatalities as a public health issue and by adopting a more integrated approach to road safety – strategies that are already working in other cities. Building alliances across all levels of government and capitalizing on broader reforms can also help ensure that city planning takes road safety into account. 

Join leading public safety, transportation and governance experts for a discussion on this recent analysis and the politics of road safety. Together, they will spotlight interventions that can reduce fatalities and serious injuries, identify ways that city officials can take to reframe the issue in public debates, and point to steps that decision-makers can take to navigate tricky political dynamics.


Marc ShottenProgram Manager, The Global Road Safety Facility, The World Bank

Anna Bray SharpinUrban Planner and Transportation Associate, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

Claudia Adriazola-SteilDirector, Health and Road Safety, WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities

Moderated by: Mark RobinsonGlobal Director, Governance, World Resources Institute

About the Series

WRI’s Greening Governance Seminar Series explores how good governance – inclusive, transparent decision-making processes, equal access to justice, strong institutions and a vibrant civil society – not only help policymakers advance more effective, equitable policies, but also implement ambitious commitments like the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.

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