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November 23, 2016

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Shanghai: A model for the world in road safety

THE city of Shanghai is one of the largest, most densely populated cities in the world. Home to more than 24 million people, the assortment of traffic is enormous — cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, electronic bicycles (e-bikes), and pedestrians. In such a bustling urban city, promoting road-user safety takes a comprehensive and clear commitment by the government.

Shanghai has proven its commitment to reducing road traffic fatalities and injuries by addressing road safety issues and implementing solutions that have proven effective. In 2015, Shanghai was selected as one of 10 cities to be a part of an elite global network to reduce road traffic fatalities and injuries. The network is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety, a five-year program working to reduce fatalities and injuries around the world.

Each year, 1.25 million people die from road traffic crashes, and up to 50 million people are injured. Currently the ninth leading cause of death globally, traffic crashes are predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. Each year in Shanghai, the government reports that more than 860 people die from road traffic crashes. To reduce this number, the Shanghai government are supporting and implementing road safety interventions that are proving to save lives.

Tongji University co-organized a seminar with the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) for traffic police on driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and the Shanghai Institute of Traffic Engineering co-organized a different seminar with GRSP that aimed to educate the safety managers and specialists from the bus, taxi, and inter-city coach companies under the supervision of the Transport Commission. The city has been a strong advocate of strengthening important road safety traffic law amendments addressing the use of helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.

Enforcement campaign

In March 2016, the Shanghai traffic police conducted a three-month enforcement campaign aimed at promoting safe driving by stopping vehicles for running red lights, reverse driving, and more. By committing resources to this campaign, road fatalities dropped nearly 20 percent in one year, from April 2015 to April 2016; and according to a public survey, 97 percent of local citizens supported the campaign. While more needs to be done to reduce behaviors that greatly increase risk of fatality, including enforcing helmet and seat-belt use, and arrests for drinking and driving and speeding, Shanghai has already emerged as a leader among Chinese cities in improving conditions for pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and passengers.

With support from the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP), Ministry of Transport, and Research Institute of Highway, China established its own program to assess the safety of roads, called ChinaRAP. This organization has started surveying high-risk roads in Shanghai and making recommendations for improved lighting, wider sidewalks, and increased traffic markers, such as crosswalks. With Bloomberg Philanthropies funding, ChinaRap assessed 1,588 kilometers of high-risk roads throughout China between 2010 and 2014. Since 2015, they’ve assessed an additional 98 kilometers. By continuing to assess the safety of its road network, and implementing recommendations from groups like ChinaRAP, Shanghai can vastly reduce the number of road traffic fatalities and serious injuries.

It is vital to the well-being of the city to continue addressing road safety through a multi-sectoral approach — involving police, transportation, urban design, and communications. By continuing to foster a culture of road safety among city residents, while instituting hard-hitting media and public education campaigns, road design that prioritizes pedestrian safety over vehicles, and evidence-based policies, conditions will continue to improve.

We are pleased that a city with global influence is taking a serious look at road infrastructure and road user behavior to better understand how to reduce traffic crashes and related fatalities.


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