Road Safety: Puerto Rico Highway Agency distinguished with IRF award

The International Road Federation has presented its annual "Find a Way" Global Road Safety Award to the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works on the closing day of the IRF "Vision Zero for Latin America" Road Safety Conference
August 16, 2021
IRF Washington

The IRF "Find a Way" Award recognises outstanding commitment to safer roads by national, regional, or city government and is presented every year as part of IRF's commitment to the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.

According to IRF President & CEO C. Patrick Sankey "Road agencies have access to a number of road safety diagnosis and treatment tools. Taken individually, however, these tools are unlikely to yield sustained results, unless they are accompanied by inspired leadership. This is the meaning behind IRF's decision in 2012 to launch a dedicated global road safety award. We present this award each year to the head of a local or national institution that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to find a way to reduce the burden of road traffic injuries."

Previous nominees have included the South African National Roads Agency, the Federal Agency of Roads & Bridges (Mexico), Highways England, Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Government of Belize.

This year's nomination gives special attention to efforts to mobilise all instruments of government in support of long-term road safety outcomes. The Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works has always placed a high level of emphasis on the safety of the users of its network of roads and highways. Starting in 2013, the then Secretary of Transportation took the lead in this crusade, rapidly establishing interagency steering committees and fostering partnerships with the academia and non-profit organisations to raise awareness and analyse the present and future road safety needs. These efforts were continued and amplified by successive Secretaries over the years, leading to the formal adoption of a Vision Zero strategy in 2019, now led by the current secretary, Eng Eileen Vélez Vega.

Receiving the award, Vélez Vega stated, "As secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works, I'm honoured and happy to receive the Find-A-Way award from the International Road Federation. Special thanks to all our colleagues who have worked so hard and that are still working for the benefit of road safety on our island. Our Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) was developed and implemented in 2014 in close collaboration with all sectors: state agencies; municipalities, NGOs; and private entities. Since the implementation of the SHSP, Puerto Rico has developed a culture of highway safety, being the first US jurisdiction to establish a seatbelt law and achieving a historical reduction in traffic fatalities. This is extremely important for us, and we will continue promoting the SHSP's efforts towards saving lives. This will always be our top priority."

The nomination crowns an exceptional 3-day virtual road safety conference discussing what "Vision Zero" means for Latin America's road planners & builders. The conference was jointly organised by the IRF and Puerto Rico's T2 Center and gathered more than 700 participants from 25 countries.

Road Safety at the 18th IRF World Meeting & Exhibition

Achieving zero road deaths and serious injuries will be one of the defining topics of the IRF World Meeting. Thought leaders, agency heads and veteran practitioners will address the issue from a variety of angles:

  • Partnerships for Road Safety
  • Artificial Intelligence for Safer Roads
  • Forgiving Roads for All: From Vision to Results
  • Delivering Safety Workzones (Workshop)
  • Delivery Strategies for Industry Innovators (Workshop)

Skhumbuzo Macozoma CEO, South African National+ Roads Agency
Prof Mohamed Abdel-Aty University of Central Florida
Dan Chen president, 3M  Transportation Safety Division
Alina Burlacu Senior Transport Specialist,  The World Bank

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