For Immediate Release
Washington, DC - On October 26th, the Republic of Georgia passed legislation to mandate and enforce seatbelt use on city roads and highways. This success was made possible through the advocacy efforts of a USAID-supported Global Development Alliance (GDA) which garnered the attention and direct support of President Mikheil Saakashvili and First Lady Sandra Roelofs.
Road crashes are the second leading cause of death for women age 15-49 in Georgia (Georgia Reproductive Age Mortality Study 2006) and according to new research supported by the Partnership for Road Safety, the total costs of road crashes in Georgia in 2008 was estimated to be around 1.5 percent of GDP. In 2009, at the beginning of the Alliance, research revealed that seatbelt use was around one percent in cities. However, on highways where seat belts are required by law, use is between 39 and 41 percent.
The GDA Partnership has reached high visibility in Georgia, in great part through the use of the USAID name and brand. The Alliance includes a range of stakeholders such as BP, the FIA Foundation, the Ministry of Science and Education, AutoBild, the Dutch Foreign Ministry Matra Programme, the Georgian National Curriculum and Assessment Center, and the Georgian National Automobile Federation. It was implemented over 15 months by the Partnership for Road Safety, a Georgian non-profit organization that promotes road safety through research, education and advocacy. The Georgian First Lady is now the president of the Board for the Alliance. Last April, President Saakashvili stated in an interview with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that he believed seat belts should be compulsory in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. He pledged to continue work on road safety in Georgia.
Globally, road accidents claim the lives of 3,500 people every day, 3,000 of which are in poor countries. This will rise to more than 5,700 a day in 10 years' time unless governments act, according to a report by the FIA Foundation, set up in 2001 by motorsport's governing body to promote road safety.
International experience shows that initial focus on a seat belt campaign, rather than several different areas of road safety education, is vital in order to achieve some tangible outcomes and build a foundation for tackling other aspects of road safety. This has been an innovative partnership and area of work for USAID which will have long term, lasting public health benefits.
For more information about USAID, visit www.usaid.gov.
Last updated: February 20, 2015