On December 5, 2013, the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) joined the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Turkey to launch a new campaign to prevent speeding on Turkey’s roads. “Think About Consequences, Slow Down Your Speed,” was released as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Road Safety Program and aims to reduce the number of deaths and injuries due to speeding.

Nearly 10,000 people die each year in Turkey from road traffic crashes, and an estimated 2 million more are injured. Speeding is considered one of the main risk factors for fatal crashes. Studies reveal that the relationship between speed and injury severity is particularly critical for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

While there, JH-IIRU team members, assistant scientist, Shivam Gupta and doctoral student, Connie Hoe, presented the unit’s monitoring and evaluation data on speeding and seatbelt use, the two major risk factors for the country, from the two intervention sites, Ankara and Afyon. In Afyon, the overall seatbelt-wearing rate has increased significantly since the beginning of the Global Road Safety Program, from 3.9% in November 2010 to 72.9% in June 2013. In Ankara, the rate has increased as well, from approximately 23% in November 2010 to 37.9% in June 2013. JH-IIRU has completed more than 800,000 observations on speeding and seatbelt use in both sites since 2010.

There is extensive evidence from around the world that road safety campaigns complemented by the strict enforcement of laws can dramatically decrease reckless behavior on the roads.

Kelly Henning, head of global health programs at Bloomberg Philanthropies said, “Over 8700 Turkish citizens are killed in road traffic crashes each year. The launch of this new social marketing campaign highlighting the dangers of speeding, along with increased police enforcement, will reduce the number of road traffic crashes and unnecessary fatalities and injuries on Turkey's roads. We support efforts to strengthen The Highway Traffic Safety Law to ensure greater safety on Turkey's roads.”

This new speeding prevention campaign will be aired locally for a period of four weeks, and consists of television commercials, radio messages and outdoor and indoor print-ads on billboards and buses.

JH-IIRU is currently working with a consortium of partners to improve road safety in low- and middle-income countries around the world as part of the Global Road Safety Program, a five-year initiative that draws on support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the World Health Organization to evaluate and implement road safety solutions where they are needed most.

More information can be found here: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-international-injury-research-unit/research/global-road-safety/

For additional information, including media campaigns, visit the WHO site: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_traffic/countrywork/turkey/speed_2013/en/index.html