22 May 2014

Changing Supply Chains Have Relevance for Freight and Logistics  

Leipzig Ministerial Summit Looks to the Future and Expresses Concerns Over Accident Statistics

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GERMANY – WORLDWIDE – Ministers from the 54 countries which make up the membership of the International Transport Forum (ITF) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have been holding their Annual summit in Leipzig and have made a couple of pronouncements having considered this year’s theme ‘Transport for a Changing World’. Although covering the many facets of the subject there are some points which have a particular relevance to the freight and logistics sector, recognising that major trade flow changes are reconfiguring supply chains throughout the world.

The full ministerial declaration is viewable HERE and it stresses the need for more international co-operation to create transport systems for the needs of a changing world. The ministers recognise that the extreme transformational changes which are occurring globally are a characteristic of the age we live in and take note of the impact of ‘megatrends’ like shifting demographics, such as the ageing of societies in many mature economies as against a growing share of younger people in a number of developing and emerging countries thus radically altering population profiles. Other examples quoted are digitalisation, changes to trade flows, plus the influence of climate change. The ministerial declaration states:

“In this environment of transformation, policymakers are facing greater levels of uncertainty in decision making, with the speed, nature, intensity and timing of change in recent years occurring beyond what has been expected. The reality of governing in this interconnected world requires greater emphasis on international and regional co-operation as well as information sharing, and suggests that policymakers should work together more effectively to adopt common policy responses.

“While adapting to these global economic and societal phenomena, transport itself is also a driver of change, as innovation in the sector opens new frontiers. In this way, transport is itself defining new landscapes of opportunity for a greener and more inclusive economy and society.”

During the summit delegates have expressed some concerns following the release of accident statistics by the International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) which covers 31 countries. Despite the number of road fatalities falling by 1.7% between 2011 and 2012 road safety policies are not succeeding in improving protection for vulnerable road users according to the ITF.

The 2014 Road Safety Annual Report shows that reductions in road deaths among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists have levelled off since 2009/10 and in some cases, increases have been recorded. The share of fatalities among elderly road users is slowly increasing in many IRTAD countries. This reflects the changing age structure of populations. In 2012 the share of fatalities in the age group 65+ for the first time exceeded 30% for European IRTAD counties. In Japan this share has been even higher for some time; it is now at around 55%.

The increased number of cyclists has been accompanied by a slowing of the decreasing rate of deadly crashes by cyclists registered in previous years, and in some cases by an increase. While the most recent data overall confirms the downward trend in road deaths, and some countries have achieved historic successes, IRTAD recorded the lowest average reduction rate in ten years. Such a moderate success will be insufficient to contribute substantially to the UN road safety target of halting the global increase in the number of traffic fatalities and reversing the trend.

Overall, road safety policies in countries covered by the IRTAD database have been a huge success. Between 2000 and 2012, the annual death toll has fallen by nearly 40% or 45,000 fewer deaths per year when compared with 2000 level. In 2012, five European countries achieved a historic first by reducing their annual road fatalities per 100,000 population (mortality rate) to three or less. These are Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Iceland. Nine countries reduced their death toll by more than 10%: Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland but 10 of the 37 IRTAD countries and observers saw an increase in fatalities, some in excess of 10%.

Currently, 1.3 million people die on the world’s roads each year, mostly in emerging economies. Forecasts expect the global figure to rise to nearly 2 million in 2020 if no strong action is taken. The IRTAD 2014 Annual Report can be read in full HERE (but settle down with a coffee as its stretches to 527 pages)

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