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We know that ITS can reduce road deaths - this is a moral issue

First publishedin ITS International
January February 2019
If you live in one of the world’s poor countries you are three times more likely to die in a road accident than if you live in a richer country. This sobering finding comes from the latest World Health Organisation report on road safety (p41). That simply isn’t good enough. As WHO points out, proven solutions are available to improve the chilling statistics. These include better legislation and strong enforcement, of course, but technology must also be part of the mix.

This is an economic issue - but it’s a moral one, too. Moreover, it is a timely reminder that the ITS industry has the power to help stem the tide of misery. It cannot be right that poorer states have 1% of the world’s vehicles but 13% of all vehicle-related deaths; while richer countries have 40% of the world’s cars – but only 7% of total traffic fatalities. Road traffic accident is now the biggest killer of young people, and the eighth overall leading cause of death worldwide – above even HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. There is another way.

There are other ethical dilemmas in this issue of ITS International. An increasing wealth of information is available to create personalised transport solutions – and this makes for some exciting possibilities. But hang on a minute: does everyone really know what they’ve signed up for? ITS companies have a duty to be explicit in explaining how data is going to be used (p44). Otherwise, a backlash is coming.

Finally, the gig economy is reshaping not only the way we think about travel (Uber, anyone?) or pizza delivery (there are many apps for that, inevitably), but also about enforcement. Roads are no longer simply routes for allowing us to get from A to B – they are also now high-pressure workplaces for many people (p28). And because job security is scarce, getting that delivery done on time is vital. So tiredness, speed limits and all the other rules of the road might just take a backseat. Times are changing.

The authorities – and the rest of us - have some thinking to do.