By Nicholas Worrell
The truth of those lyrics was really brought home to me last week at the 3rd International Road Federation Caribbean Regional Congress. More than 150 delegates from the Caribbean and other countries attended. Everyone gathered in Port of Spain to address key issues facing safety, infrastructure and mobility, all knowing that to improve traffic safety and save lives, well, you can’t make it alone.
I was honored to be a guest speaker at the conference and to join so many dedicated traffic safety professionals working hard to make a difference in the Caribbean. In my remarks and discussions with the Congress delegates, I highlighted the NTSB’s findings from safety studies and accident investigations, showcased the agency’s safety priorities (e.g., the Most Wanted List), and shared lessons learned in how to achieve progress to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries.
Did you know that worldwide, more than 1.2 million people perish each year because of motor vehicle crashes? In the United States, we are making progress, but have much more to do, especially to address driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs as well as distracted driving. Traffic safety officials in the Caribbean face their own challenges.
Last week, I learned more about the challenges faced by Caribbean traffic safety professionals. For one, the Honorable Stephen Cadiz, Trinidad Minister of Transport, spoke about proposed legislation to address changing the mindset of people in his country who believe it is acceptable to drink and drive. He spoke of changing the nation’s “culture of safety” by introducing measures similar to a graduated driver’s licensing system.
As I listened, I was reminded of the great benefit of these conferences, which bring together experts from many countries and cultures. Indeed, no man is an island. What affects safety in one part of the world can also affect safety in another. And, most importantly, what prevents crashes and fatalities in one nation can also help prevent them in another country.
That is the true benefit of coming together – to share experiences, lessons learned and, most importantly, solutions. That’s what the delegates were doing in Trinidad and what so many dedicated safety professionals do every year across the world at conferences like the one in Port of Spain: Work together to share data, experiences and expertise. It’s these relationships among safety professionals that can be so pivotal in making a difference to save lives and prevent even more injuries all around the world.
It was invigorating to be with so many dedicated professionals. It also was a great way to kick off Global Youth Traffic Safety Month. Treat each man as a brother as the song goes. But, at the same time our lifesaving work is improving traffic safety for our children and our children’s children.
I am honored to be a part of the NTSB and to be a part of the solution.
Nicholas Worrell is a Safety Advocate in the NTSB Office of Communications.