EMBARQ Turkey helping to lead national road safety movement
In 2010, EMBARQ Turkey – along with the rest of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program – began a five-year project to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries in ten countries. As part of what’s been dubbed the “RS10” initiative, EMBARQ Turkey is implementing a series of Road Safety Laboratory (RSLab) projects in five Turkish cities, with the goal to raise awareness of road safety issues, build capacity to reduce traffic crashes, analyze accident-prone areas, and provide lifesaving interventions. EMBARQ Turkey works on the ground in Konya, Eskişehir, Kayseri, Kocaeli, and Antalya, all of which stand out for their relatively high number of traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries as well as the growing use of private cars.
EMBARQ Turkey and partners are at the forefront of a growing national movement to decrease road fatalities and injuries. On April 3, 2013, Prime Minister R. Tayyip Erdoğan signed a protocol announcing a “Decade of Action for Road Safety Plan,” which aims to reduce traffic fatalities by 50% by 2020. As part of this effort, the country established a strategic Traffic Safety Platform to advance these ambitious road safety goals. The Traffic Safety Platform has appointed EMBARQ Turkey as the Coordinator for Urban Planning and Transport. Earlier this year, EMBARQ Turkey hosted a Road Safety in Urban Transport conference that brought together a range of stakeholders to discuss how sustainable urban transport can play a key role in traffic safety strategies.
Turkey’s increased focus on road safety is having real effects. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that seat belt use increased from 21% to 35% in the capital city of Ankara between 2010 and 2013. Still, road safety in Turkey has significant room for improvement. In total, 10,000 people die every year on Turkish roads and 200,000 are injured. Among the 24 OECD countries, Turkey is second only to Russia in road crashes per capita. Further action must address both behavioral changes as well as the urban design failures that allow traffic crashes to occur in the first place.
EMBARQ Turkey focuses on saving lives through sustainable transport and urban development, working to improve street design and road infrastructure in urban areas. Specifically, the team is pursuing a three-step process to reduce fatalities and injuries in the five RSLab cities:
Raising awareness and collecting data
In 2013, EMBARQ Turkey conducted workshops with local administrators and police departments in the selected target cities. These workshops helped raise awareness about the importance of prioritizing road safety and encouraged city governments to collect data on traffic crashes. After a analyzing the data from each city, EMBARQ Turkey and the city of Konya partnered for a more in-depth exploration of how to use this data to identify priority areas for action on road safety.
Identifying “black spots”
Using this data as a starting point, the team underwent an extensive process to locate areas where fatalities are especially prevalent – called “black spots” – and target strategic road safety interventions. Using Konya’s comprehensive road safety dataset, the team created a heat map of all road accidents from 2009 to 2013. From this map, the team was able to determine the most common accident types, locations, and times, with a focus on pedestrian fatalities. After analyzing road geometry, traffic conditions, and driver behavior at each site, the team selected four “black spots” and one “black section” that are in particular need of intervention to prevent further crashes.
Recommendations for saving lives through urban design
In September 2014, EMBARQ Turkey will partner with a team of road safety inspection experts to craft specific recommendations for altering the identified problem areas in Konya. The recommended design changes will then be carried out by the local government and private sector actors, and are expected to improve signalization, reduce speeds, and increase visibility, all of which will improve road safety. EMBARQ Turkey will partner with manufacturing company 3M to pilot new reflective road materials in these black spots, furthering increasing safety and visibility. The team will then undertake a similar process to identify traffic safety black spots and determine the best course of action to make them safer in Eskişehir, Kayseri, Kocaeli, and Antalya.
These experiences improving traffic safety through street design will culminate in a master report that encompasses all of EMBARQ Turkey’s analysis and recommendations, including specific examples from each of the five cities, and will serve as a national guide for identifying and improving traffic safety black spots. Once the changes are implemented, EMBARQ Turkey hopes this project will become a prominent example of best practices for cities and countries to save lives through road safety and sustainable urban design.
EMBARQ Turkey’s traffic safety work is made possible by Bloomberg Philanthropies.