By Richard Medina Gómez
The Government of the Dominican Republic (DR) recently created the Presidential Commission on Road Safety (“Comisión Presidencial para la Seguridad Vial”) as a coordination table for improving the road safety and traffic education in the country. These are two problems that need immediate public attention. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), using 2013 data, the nation ranks 15th in the world with 29.3 traffic deaths per 100,000 population.[i] The DR heads the list among Latin American countries, followed by Brazil with 23.4 traffic deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.[ii] 63% of the deaths in the country involved drivers or passengers of less than four-wheel motorized vehicles, 13% were drivers or passenger of four-wheel vehicles while the remaining fifth involved pedestrians or unspecified users.[iii]
Furthermore, the WHO notes that part of the problem is that the DR does not have a lead agency that oversees the work of more than ten institutions whose work is related to traffic policy.[iv] Additionally, the WHO catalogs the country as a having low level of emergency response to car crashes.[v]
The Government is addressing these causes in a variety of ways:
- A massive media campaign was released showing videos with real-life accidents and pointing out who caused it and what the involved drivers could have done to avoid the accident.
- The Presidential Commission for Road Safety, coordinated by the Minister of Public Works, is drafting a plan to assure coordination among all the transportation-related institutions and to improve traffic education. The plan is expected to be released in late November.
- The Government is expanding the 911 Emergency Response Program into the most densely populated provinces of the country. It began in the Great Santo Domingo area in 2014, and the Government promised to expand the service into Santiago, San Cristóbal, Puerto Plata, and the Touristic Corridor in the Eastern Region.
- The Ministry of Public Works implemented a plan for rapid response to accidents on the country’s highways and inter-urban roads.
- The Government is improving the capacity of the emergencies in provincial hospitals.
- Traffic law enforcement and surveillance have increased in primary roads and urban centers in the country.
Acknowledging that there is a public safety problem is the first step to solving it. The Government has gone beyond that point. It had created a comprehensive plan for tackling every cause of the problem. In a couple of years, we can expect to see a notable reduction in traffic deaths and car crashes in the country.
About the Author
Richard Medina Gómez is a Dominican economist who currently is a graduate student at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Richard worked for the Dominican Ministry of Finance for four years, with a focus on macroeconomic research, financial analysis, and public debt management operations. Richard is interested in exploring how a developing country’s institutional framework could be strengthened through more capable public employees and decision makers. He is also interested in pre-college education policy in developing countries. Richard Medina was the Editor-in-Chief of the 5th Edition of the LAPJ and is a panda and dog lover.
[i] World Health Organization –WHO- (2015). Data on the Global status report on road safety 2015. Retrieved on November 9th, 2016 from: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2015/GSRRS2015_data/en/