That road traffic crashes cause large numbers of avoidable deaths and untold suffering is not in doubt. That there are interventions that can reduce this continuing tragedy is not in doubt either. In fact, many countries and communities attest to the fact that even with very high rates of motorization, death and injury rates can be brought down and kept to a minimum.

So,

  • Why aren’t all countries, particularly those where the burden of road traffic crashes is very high, not rushing to adopt those interventions?
  • Why are some interventions working in some environments, and not in others?
  • Why can’t certain interventions work everywhere?
  • What do we know about new patterns of motorization?
  • Are we forcing square pegs into round holes?
  • Are totally new interventions that have never been tested or used anywhere now needed for certain environments?
  • How will they come about?

These and many other questions are on the minds of road injury preventions professional and practitioners worldwide. Road traffic injuries have over the last few decades taken on an importance that was not anticipated, and with many countries focusing almost entirely on increased mobility for development, the requisite safety considerations were not prioritized. This is especially true in the rapidly motorising countries; 90% of all road deaths occur in the low- and middle-income countries.

Road Traffic Injury Research Network partners are therefore engaged in a race that we cannot afford to lose. A race to establish the size and nature of the road injury problem that confronts communities and countries. A race to understand the factors that lead to crashes in the immediate, the factors that increase vulnerability to crashes in communities and countries, as well as factors that promote resilience, thus reducing the risk of crashes. A race to either design or adapt interventions to prevent crashes and their attendant injuries. A race to improve the care of those that do get injured on the roads, so that an injury does not become a disability, or a fatality. A race to stop motorization, which is truly the engine that drives development, from taking away with one hand what it gives with the other.

Research is the basis for all successful and sustainable interventions. None of the above is going to happen by chance. The RTIRN exists to build the research capacity necessary to tackle the road injury problem. We thank all our partners and funders for continued commitment to the work of road traffic injury prevention. Our worlds are interconnected, and even while driving or walking on different roads, success for one is in some way success for all of us.

Olive Kobusingye

Board Chair