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Principal Road Safety Actors in Lebanon

Principal Road Safety Actors in Lebanon

Road Safety involves many actors from different parts of society: The parliament, the government, local authorities, municipalities, driver training schools, vehicle registration and inspecting agencies, emergency services, schools and universities, vehicle manufacturers and importers, voluntary safety organizations, insurance companies, transport industry, trade and labor unions, bicycle organizations, alcohol industry and entertainment sector, R& D institutes and media (press, radio...)
This chapter describes the present evaluation of road safety work in Lebanon with comments and suggestions as how to implement a more structured approach and ask for   better co-ordination and co-operation between public agencies and interest groups.
A number of organizations are active in road safety and the main responsibility currently rest with the Ministry of Interior, the ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Council for development and Reconstruction. There is also an active NGO, the Youth Association for Social Awareness (YASA), and the Lebanese Red Cross who assists with emergency rescue. Business enterprises, Insurance companies and health care professionals should also have crucial responsibility in road safety efforts.

Ministry of Interior (MoI)
         The MoI is concerned with Lebanon’s interior policy that is developing, coordinating, implementing and preserving order and security: of the provinces, cazas, municipalities, independent municipal funds, mayors, elective councils, other local elected or nominated councils, villages, political parties and associations. The MoI manages personal status, refugee’s affairs, as well as civil defense, vehicle and traffic affairs. The MoI is seen by many as the main agency responsible for road safety.

The Traffic Management Organization (TMO)
        The TMO under the MoI is responsible for driving licenses and registers as well as vehicle registration and inspection. TMO will soon take over of the following functions from the Beirut Urban Transport Development Project (BUTDP):
• Manage, operate and monitor traffic lights.
• Traffic engineering study
• Planning operational traffic
• Roadside parking
• Information and guidance: TMO shall undertake to provide the public, the media, and responsible people with information on traffic and road conditions. Advanced methods shall later be used to se up a guidance system for road users. The TMO shall launch informational guidance campaigns on modern traffic management regulations aimed at drivers and beneficiaries.
              A Director General heads the TMO. The decree indicates that its main focus is on ensuring the efficient movement of traffic and it will be responsible for the new traffic signaling system, which will be installed under the BUTDP. The TMO will administer some innovative funding sources such as fees from parking, vehicle registrations and also will generate some income from traffic fines.
The Traffic Emergency Committee (TEC)
The TEC was established under the MoI by decree in September 1994. The TEC should undertake the following tasks:
• Calling the concerned parties in order to modify working hours in public and private schools, banks, companies and public institutions.
• Taking the necessary measures in order to allow public administrations to clear the drainage Channels and rehabilitate roads.
• Restricting car parking on sidewalks, highways and international roads and forbidding the parking of vegetable carts on street sides.
• Ensuring public places in accordance with competent municipalities and taking the appropriate measures in order to use private real estates and change them into public car parking.
• Calling the concerned authorities in order to accelerate the completion of road works on public roads.
• Studying the public transit issue using mini-buses.
• Restricting truck traffic on highways and international roads during rush hours.
• Studying road barriers requirements and suggest localized remedies.
• Monitoring traffic on permanent basis, issuing instructions to countermeasure congestion.
• Dissemination of works schedule through media.
• Organizing and launching safety awareness campaign to be broadcast through media.
  The TEC was established by the MOI by a decree in September 1994. According to many specialists, the major part of this decree was not applied during the period from 1994 till 2004. Its main focus was to resolve traffic congestion issues rather than for safety purposes.
NGOs, insurance companies and other private sector organization are not included as members in TEC. In fact, TEC is acting as a department in the MOI because other public agencies are not actively participating in its efforts.
        The Internal Security Forces (ISF) are the general armed forces whose prerogatives cover all the Lebanese territory and its regional waters. In the general web-site describing the ISF, nothing is mentioned about road safety. However, the police are responsible for traffic surveillance and enforcement as well as the reporting of casualty accidents. The ISF are also responsible for setting speed limits in collaboration with the MoPWT on all roads.
         The police working with road traffic is organized in security detachments/situations. There is around 850 traffic Policemen in the whole of Lebanon. The status of the Traffic Police is not the highest within the ISF.
Lebanese Civil Defense
The mission of the Lebanese Civil defense is to provide relief to victims help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, and to mitigate the suffering of the most vulnerable. In fact, the members of the Lebanese Civil Defense are always prepared as well as the ambulances so when an emergency calls, they directly rush to the rescue. At present, the Lebanese civil defense is the major responsible for all transports of road victims to and from hospitals, etc. The Civil defense has one telephone number for the whole country, 125. If necessary, they bring in other emergency services such as Lebanese Red Cross, fire brigade, police, etc.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport
The MoPWT is responsible for most transport issues. The ministry is divided into a number of Directorates. The two with road safety responsibility are the Directorate General of Roads & Buildings (DG0RB) and the Directorate general of Land & Maritime Transport (DoLMT).

Directorate General of Roads & Buildings (DGoRB)
Subordinate of the DG0RB is the Directorate of Roads (DoR). The DoR is responsible for the construction of some new roads and the maintenance and operation of he classified road network. The Directory mainly deals with road maintenance and operation.
The budget for the DoR amounts of USD 20 million per year (2003). A budget of USD 5 million is allocated for new roads, and about 15 million for maintenance, operation and rehabilitation. There is also a very small amount allocated for road safety, USD 30 thousand per year.
The Project Implementation Unit (PIU) was established under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport to manage the National Roads Project (NRP) which is supported by the World Bank Loan. The PIU main responsibility is to take care of safety by making sure that road rehabilitation schemes are designed and constructed safely.    PIU should include the removal of unsafe features while rehabilitating the selected sections.
The PIU initiated the development of two manuals to help improve safety at road works and the use of traffic control and safety devices. They are:
1- Contract Conditions and Specifications for Traffic Control Devices for On-call Services.
2- Manual of Traffic Controls for Construction and Maintenance of Work Zones.
Lebanese Red Cross
Red Cross is a humanitarian organization established as an independent national society who is very active in helping with rescue after road crashes and providing first aid and rescue services.  The Lebanese first aid teams are divided into 40 centers covering Lebanon.  To become a rescuer, one has to go through an intensive program of 3 different levels: 60 hours basic course, Visa I and finally visa II.  After he passes all these stages, he is requested to undergo continuous training during the year to improve the quality of his services.   Also, the drivers have to pass through special training. 
The LRC was founded in 1964 with no more than 12 young volunteers. In 1975, with the beginning of the conflict in Lebanon, the number of first aiders increased from 180 to 2000 and there was a rapid expansion from 5 to 41 centers in 2003. LRC have around 200 ambulances, 2000 volunteers to serve them, and 41 stations (with 2-9 ambulances each). The services are supplied free of charge.
              To co-ordinate the actions of the first aid teams, a central operations room centralizes all information, makes necessary contacts and supervises the fieldwork by way of radio. The LRC have one telephone number for the whole country, 140. If necessary, they bring in other emergency services such as civil defense, fire brigade, police, etc.
Youth Association for Social Awareness (YASA)
          The death in a traffic crash of Tarek Assi in 1994 initiated his friends to establish a club to his memory and with the objective to reduce road accidents and promote injury prevention.
YASA’s fields of interest include: children’s safety, safety inside cars, pedestrian safety, road maintenance, alcohol abuse, motorcycle safety, driving license improvements, school bus safety, emergency systems and truck safety.
           The work of YASA included thousand of interviews and reports in TV, radio and press, promotional video clips for TV, brochures, school competitions, lectures for the army, university studies, simulations with Civil Defense and Lebanese Red Cross, conferences with municipalities, and training sessions for drivers of companies. YASA is very active in promoting awareness at government and citizen level and works closely with the media, education agencies (particularly private schools), and companies in the private sector to develop and run road safety programs. Many of these are educational but YASA has also been involved in promoting better safety at road works. It has also organized national and regional road safety seminars with the aim of drawing up prioritized recommendations for improvement.
Since Summer 1998, YASA prepared and edited one page A3 Size in a bi-monthly poster about safety promotion that is regularly posted in all military buildings in Lebanon.
Since March 1999, YASA participated in more than 200 conferences about safety promotion for all trainees in the military school for all new officers of the Lebanese Army and for all members of the military service of the Lebanese Army (More than 100  thousands).
Since January 2000, YASA participated in more than 50 conferences about safety promotion for all trainees in the military school for all new members and officers of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces.
Since the first national conference in October 1998, when a representative of the German Council for Road Safety was a main speaker, YASA received distinguished guests that are experts in Safety Promotion from the following countries:
Algeria, Egypt, France, Germany, Kingdom of Jordan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kingdom of Morocco, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of American, Switzerland, the Sultanate of Oman, Tunisia and Syria.
 YASA also organized and participated in a series of visits to the leaders of public and private organizations concerned with road safety in many Arab countries such as: Algeria, Jordan, Qatar, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria.
Since April 1997, YASA prepared and distributed freely around four and a half million fully colored items (30 leaflets, 10 competitions, 15 Awards and 11 posters) to participants in safety promotion interventions in most educational institutions working in Lebanon and in neighboring countries.
In Aug 2001, YASA requested from SRF to organize a research study entitled “Two Way communication between the police and the public” with the cooperation of Lebanese ministry of Interior and with partial financial support from Amideast/ US Aid ( Appendix B).
In Spring of 2002, YASA requested from SRF to organize a research study entitled “Safety in Road Construction Zones” with partial funding from the Council for Development and Reconstruction (Appendix C).


Scientific Research Foundation (SRF)
The Scientific Research Foundation (SRF) is a unique research institution dedicated for safety promotion and injury prevention in Lebanon. In 1997, this institution was established by university students that believed that research and observation of traffic safety conditions in Lebanon may be beneficial in orienting safety awareness campaigns.
Since Eight years, SRF built sustainable and extensive research with YASA and with other organizations concerned with safety promotion such as the Lebanese Fire Prevention Committee (LFPC).
 SRF was a major partner of YASA in the Five National conferences about road safety in Lebanon (Oct 98, Oct 99, Jan 2001, April 2002 and Jan 2004) under the Patronage Lebanese President. In 26 March 2004, YASA and SRF celebrated the World Health Day 2004 dedicated to Road safety by organizing, under the patronage of the Lebanese Prime minister, the Lebanese Convention for Road Safety in the UN house with the participation of road safety experts from Syria.  On the other hand, SRF was a major partner of the LFPC in the First National Conference for Fire Safety organized on 22 Feb 2003, under the patronage of the Lebanese President.  
In Fall 2003, it prepared a joint campaign with WHO office in Beirut, YASA and with the ministry of public health. This campaign was based on the production of a 64 pages booklet about the prevention of truck accidents and a flyer of one hundred thousand copies regarding traffic law violations in Lebanon.
In January 2005, SRF adopted the following development objectives:
1. Develop a comprehensive accident and injury database;
2. Ascertain the causes of accident and background factors;
3. Develop countermeasures on the basis of scientific study and engineering knowledge;
4. Monitor and evaluate accidents countermeasures;
5. Assess economic and social impacts of accidents;
6. Conduct high quality research on technological, behavioral and educational safety improvement opportunities and their cost effectiveness;
7. Provide training and education in injury prevention and safety technology;
8. Disseminate and share knowledge and translate them into safety policies and practices; and
9. Foster safety research excellence through exchange and linkage with institutions/ organizations at local, regional and global levels.

SRF is expected to achieve the following outputs during the next five years:
1. Improved understanding of the accident and injury problem characteristics;
2. Development of cost-effective safety measures and techniques;
3. Improved capacity for conducting research on injury prevention and countermeasures;
4. Establish cooperation for educational programs such as Diplomas, Masters and Ph.D. degrees in safety promotion and injury control studies.
5. Trained safety professional with knowledge on injury prevention and safety promotion;
6. Established facilities for safety education, research and training; and
7. Sustained awareness of safety promotion among policy makers and practitioners.
World Health Organization
The WHO – Lebanon is working with a “Injuries and Accident Prevention Program”, including road safety. The declared objectives are to:
-Establish an ongoing surveillance system injuries and develop a database on injuries in Lebanon,
-Build a core of professionals that are committed to injury prevention and trained in this subject,
-Increase awareness among community members about the principles of injury prevention and their role in this effort,
-Advocate for issuing laws and regulations.
They are also preparing plans for help fighting abuse against children and women.
• Communities and cultural or ethnic organizations
• Voluntary safety organizations
Educational Institutions
‘Children’ is one of the weak groups in society and it is of great importance to build a traffic environment that supports them to move around safely. It is also important to give the children a proper education so that they will understand their responsibility as road users. For this, they need to be aware of other road users. Good road safety education in schools and in families can contribute to this to a high extent. Traffic education should be life-long starting from the primary school since behavior change and education on safety needs time and effort.
YASA and SRF efforts are based on networking with educational institutions.
Since 1996, YASA and SRF had organized and participated in more than one hundred and fifty lectures in all of the 40 universities working in Lebanon, and in more than 250 events organized in schools in all of the 26 Cazas of Lebanon. Since 2002, these lectures had expanded to various cities in Syria.
Since the academic year 1998-1999, YASA and SRF had been consulted by hundreds of high-school, undergraduate and graduate university students in research and in presentations regarding safety promotion, environment and development issues.
          Although the important role of the aforementioned activities, educational institutions should do sustainable efforts to promote road safety. (Chapter 7 will explore many recommendations to Lebanese educational institutions).
            Enforcement of new traffic regulations is more effective when preceded and accompanied by sustainable publicity and media campaigns. YASA Lebanon was successful in managing partnerships with around 35 local and international media institutions to organize more than 3000 interviews during the period 1996-2003. Since January 2000, YASA produced and convinced media institutions to diffuse twenty five media campaigns that had targeted road safety promotion (Attached appendix V).These efforts increased the efficiency of the different media interventions that were organized by YASA in the struggle to reduce RTI in Lebanon.
            The awareness of the public to the dangers of road-traffic should be continuously promoted. While other risks of civilization, caused by air crashes for example, get great attention by politically active people and journalists, this is not so for road-traffic, although clearly more people lose their life in traffic crashes.
     Media (Television and radio, internet, billboards, brochures, posters, magazines, and newspapers) has a major role in sensitizing the general public about road safety. Education of the general public through the news media and the distribution of literature are the only effective means of achieving the objectives of some road safety programs. Newspapers and magazines have been equally effective educational media in public education for all types of accident prevention.  Media should be encouraged to provide full, accurate information and advice regularly and should influence responsible driving through positive examples in stories and plays.        

Insurance Companies
Around 50 private insurance companies supply motor insurance. Third party insurance was mandatory since July 2003. ACAL is the association of insurance companies in Lebanon. Till April 2003 when the third party insurance stated to be mandatory, around 75 % of vehicles were not insured in Lebanon.
The average amounts paid to the dependents and victims by the insurance companies are relatively low:
Fatality: USD 10,000 To 40,000
Serious injury: USD 3,000 To 25,000
Slight injury: USD 200 to 3000
          Insurance companies could play a more important role in road safety interventions in Lebanon. The ministry of economy and ACAL can push them to do more efforts.
Business Enterprises
           Many businesses already have made major contributions toward increasing road safety, from local businesses to major international corporations. They should provide more support for safety laws by implementing, for example, seat belt use policies and programs for their employees and their families. Many enterprises communicate road safety messages to their employees and customers. As a group, business is respected by the parliament, community governments, and private citizens, and wields influence in determining legislative, economic, and commercial priorities. Business can promote the "healthy habit" through a wide variety of strategies and is an essential partner in collective road safety efforts. More business enterprises should join in coalitions with other businesses and national organizations to advance road safety education, legislation, and enforcement.
Health Care Professionals 
           Doctors, nurses, and other medical, emergency, and health care professionals can also add their unique perspective to road safety. They can use their experience, knowledge, and professional reputations to educate the politicians, the media, patients, and the general public about the various dangers traffic such as not buckling up, drinking and driving, and not using child restraints properly.
        To achieve better road safety, the health sector has to integrate its policies with transport and safety policies. This sector has to improve emergency and casualty services especially for the vulnerable and the poor. It has to develop sustainable training programs at regional and national level for improving first aid knowledge and trauma care management. Finally, the health sector should encourage and strengthen partnerships with the transport sector, NGO’s and the insurance sector.
Prepared by M. Ziad Akl founder of yasa

Lebanon , Traffic Safety

Date: 4/26/2010 10:57:07 AM

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