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Road safety: a global priority

We are continuously extending every effort to make travel more efficient, more sustainable and more pleasant but we are ruled by one absolute priority: making mobility safer.

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A stable number of victims hides significant disparities between regions

In 2011, the United Nations made road safety a global priority by announcing a decade of actions to stabilize the number of road accident victims (1.25 million a year according to the WHO). Over the same period, the world’s population increased by 4% and the number of motorized vehicles on the roads by 16%. Nevertheless, this first step is a long way from the target of halving the number of victims by 2020.

The global figure hides important disparities. Road accidents are the number one cause of death for 15-29 year-olds with over 300,000 victims every year. Pedestrians and cyclists also pay a heavy price representing 26% of deaths, and if we add motorcyclists, the figure rises to 49%...half of the victims are not motorists!

Geographical differences are also very clear: 90% of deaths occur in developing countries, which only represent half of the world’s vehicles. Road mortality rates are three times higher in Africa (26.6 for 100,000 people) than in Europe (9.3 for 100,000).

On a global scale, safety is progressing but the process needs to move faster. We know the keys to success: effective legislation, correctly applied by the authorities and understood by the users, safer roads and vehicles in good condition.

Alongside other international and local operators, Michelin is committed to the cause in the field and all around the world, every day.

Legislation that is reinforced, applied and adopted

Wherever road legislation is reinforced, mortality rates fall. The most effective measures are well-known: strict speed limits, particularly in urban areas; strict drug- and drink-driving checks; mandatory safety equipment like safety belts, helmets, child safety seats and, finally, no distractions while driving, in particular the use of a phone.

It may seem an obvious solution, but this legislation is not applied everywhere - far from it. In the United States for example, motorcycle helmets are only mandatory in certain states. And when laws do exist, users need to be educated to fully understand and accept their necessity.

Michelin: supporting road safety all over the world

Our first action in favor of road safety is of course to offer increasingly performing tires which protect drivers more. But we are also involved in many prevention and awareness campaigns all around the world. Our actions in this field are based on two principles: understanding problems at a local level and partnering other operators, local authorities and NGOs.
In a broader context, we are also a member of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration (UNRSC), and partner to the Global Road Safety Partnership and Youth for Road Safety (YOURS).

Map of Michelin prevention initiatives in developed and developing countries.

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Safer vehicles and safer roads

Thanks to technological advances, vehicles are increasingly safer and will become even more so. The United Nations World Forum to standardize vehicle regulations focuses on changes which should be incorporated into standards in the near future: better protection of occupants in the case of side or front impact, improved safety belts and compliance with child safety seats using the ISOFIX standard, and the use of less rigid bumpers to protect pedestrians in the event of a collision. The focus is also on devices that can help avoid certain accidents like electronic stability control (ESC) to reduce skidding and anti-lock brakes (ABS) on motorbikes. Unfortunately, in 80% of countries vehicles do not meet these safety standards.

Tire quality obviously plays a part in vehicle safety. By designing tires that retain a high standard of performance from the first to the last mile up to the legal limit of use, Michelin reinforces road safety for all users.

But road safety also means the roads themselves. The road network is an essential concern. It requires high quality, well-maintained surfacing, clear road markings, clear signposting and directions and resources that reinforce road safety and reduce speed (roundabouts, barriers, etc.). The road network also involves the protection of vulnerable users: pedestrians, cyclists and two-wheelers in general. By creating separating spaces like cycle paths, we are effectively improving road safety.

Today, the quality of our roads is for the most part the responsibility of local government. This was not always the case. In the car industry’s early days when it was necessary to “socialize” the road to ensure different users could cohabit the available space, Michelin took a few initiatives. In 1910, we distributed 30,000 signs to local government to encourage drivers to slow down when driving through towns and villages. In 1912, a petition by Michelin initiated the numbering of French roads. In 1920, we designed our first mile marker and 35 years later, 140,000 Michelin markers on corners and poles could be found all over France, serving as landmarks to generations of drivers.

Remember: Michelin and road safety

  • For Michelin, sustainable mobility means safer mobility, first and foremost.
  • Since its beginnings, through its products, services and initiatives, our group has helped improve road safety.
  • Our commitment to road safety is both local and international.