Supporting UNHCR in achieving zero road crash fatalities and injuries

UNHCR Safe Road Use Partnership 2016

Like many other UN agencies and aid and development organisations, using the roads is an essential part of UNHCR’s daily operations. As an agency who works tirelessly to protect, it is therefore unacceptable that its very activities lead to a high level of injury and death.

UNHCR recognises this and has launched “Vision Zero”, an internal campaign aimed at reducing the number and severity of road crashes involving UNHCR staff, persons of concern and other road users in communities where UNHCR operates.

Ultimately UNHCR would like to achieve zero road crash fatalities and injuries; to strengthen the capacity to reach this ambitious goal, the organisation partnered with Fleet Forum to make use of Fleet Forum’s experience in the area of road safety.

The partnership centers on changing the road safety culture by creating awareness for safe road use and generate understanding and acceptance that being a safe road user is a personal and more-over a managerial responsibility. At the same time UNHCR has recognised that road safety should be part of its core activities and that a strategy to achieve this is needed.

Under the partnership Fleet Forum works together with UNHCR on both fronts: Safe Road Use workshops in country and field operations help staff and managers to understand that road traffic crashes are preventable and therefore avoidable. By making changes in their behaviour – from wearing seatbelts to avoid arriving last minute for missions or trips – staff can reduce the road safety risk.

With managers Fleet Forum looks at the current safety culture in the operation and supports the local management teams identifying actions that help integrating safe road use in the day-to-day activities. As a change in safety culture does not come overnight, Fleet Forum works closely with the Safe Road Use team in UNHCR to develop communications about Safe Road Use.

Rose van Steijn, Fleet Forum Programme Manager, elaborates, “Engagement of staff in the ambition is important to make the change to an organisational culture where (road) safety is embedded in everything UNHCR does. We engage staff in many different ways: for example we organise Safe Road Use photo competitions, we set up an Champions Network in which staff in the field can participate and we communicate to staff through newsletters at regular moments”.

Another important element of the partnership is to provide technical expertise to UNHCR in developing the Safe Road Use strategy and policy as well as providing practical guidance to country operations in the implementation of their road safety plan. “Developing the policy is a challenging process. Since road safety touches many different areas within UNHCR, from operations to security, from the legal department to staff welfare, we needed to include all departments in the development whilst at the same time ensuring that the policy remains feasible for management and staff in the field” van Steijn explains.

For Fleet Forum, the partnership is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate its expertise in the area of road safety and achieve results that not only saves lives and prevents injuries but also has a positive impact on costs and programme delivery.