When the expression “emerging issues” is used in transport safety, most believe one is about to unveil a new risk or problem not yet included in the rooster of problems to tackle.
My goal during the talk is to present the audience with three alternative but complementary interpretations of this expression more fitting to a 2016 international conference. Firstly, emerging issues in road safety relate to the emergency needed to implement measures to reduce mortality rates as high as 25 per 100,000 population to, for example a 5 deaths per 100,000 target. How to promote this is mostly a matter of societal and political will. Secondly, it relates to the emergency required to demonstrate that bringing those even low 5 deaths per 100,000 to Zero is possible which would then bring us to aspects such as the ageing of the population with is associated comorbidities and therapeutic drug prescriptions, the high illegal drug consumption rates behind the wheel many countries are unveiling, or improvements in the assessment of psychophysical abilities to drive, at any particular time or in general. This mostly relates to the willingness to promote efficient collaboration between the health and mobility sectors in each country. Last, but not least, it relates to the emergency of introducing the new mobility patterns and mechanisms which include the possibility of reducing the need for physical mobility with the implementation of telecommunications, the replacement of the machines we use to move on fostering walking, cycling and less external energy demanding equipment, and the introduction of autonomous driving. Autonomous driving allows assisted mobility even to those whose psychophysical health may not be optimal. Autonomous vehicles are already around us and they allow us to completely redesign what we understand as active or passive safety. This last interpretation of the term “emergency” relates to the profound societal changes that we are undergoing with the information and technological revolution we are living through.
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