The Trouble with Developing Countries?
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Argentina.
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Introduction.
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The original article 'The Trouble with Developing Countries' was written in response to a number of e-mails from Organisations in Developing Countries about their problems.  The main article covers general problems relevant to many of these counties and these sub-articles are concerned with the more specific problems we have been asked about.  A sample of their e-mails are include at the beginning which are an abridged version of their comments and/or questions followed by our reply.  [See... Global Road Safety Report: pdf.]
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Abridged E-mail.
Congratulations for the website and the idea.  It's really innovative.  We agree with you about the importance of participation of road users in traffic safety controls and improvements.  An Internet may be very useful for that.  In our little experience, people like to participate.  We think your plan to identify the most persistent offenders is interesting, especially in the countries where this control is possible because they have centralized registers of licenses and offences.  That would be impossible in our country, Argentina.  But we do believe in public participation in enforcement, as complementary to police work.
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In our website www.luchemos.org.ar/ we are trying to begin with this kind of participation through the sites "Denuncias de peligros en el tránsito" y "Lo que te pasó importa".  If you have an opportunity to visit it perhaps you could send us your comments. 
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We also agree with you about the value of involving as many people as possible in a pro-active way in order to exert "Social Pressure" on high-risk people.  Your idea is fantastic, and you know, many years ago, we tried to begin with some similar idea... to allow adult population make reports of offenders that could be taken in account for tickets... because in our country one of the most important problems is the lack of credibility about police authorities and the sensation of "nothing will happen if I do something bad".  But politicians didn't want to think about the proposal for many reasons:
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1) It would be more work and controls on police actions.  More participation became more expectation.
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2) Policemen refuse to work seriously and more.  Judges refuse to work more.
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3) There would be more public awareness about failures of the traffic system and police controls.
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We don't have neither perception about to be held to account/caught, nor punishment.  We are in the pre-history in this subject.
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About your example of bus drivers... we have a lot of problems with them and the only thing we could do, is to make meetings and to educate the owners and managers of some bus companies about the economic benefits to decrease traffic accidents among their drivers through education and training for bus drivers and incentives for the best of them.  Only a few companies are interested on it.  It's a big effort but we think it is worthwhile.
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Because of that, if you allow us, we would like to reproduce part of your article in our magazine to share these interesting ideas with more people all over the country.  We send our magazine for free to the 1100 municipalities in Argentina. 
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María Cristina Isoba, Director Traffic Safety Education and Research.  Luchemos por la Vida.
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Reply.
We have had a look at your website, and you are right, many of the problems you are currently facing in Argentina are quite different from those in Europe and North America.  You obviously have great room for improvement just on the basics, like seatbelts, helmets and BAC levels and even that is going to be an up hill struggle without some very pro-active support from Politicians and the Police.  It is hard to understand why Politicians are so apathetic about this, in purely economic terms it would be much easier to try and cut your road toll in half and save $5 billion than to try and produce goods or efficiencies for the country in some other way.
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We would just like to make a few comments about our concept in relation to your circumstances in Argentina.  [Of course, we don't really know the specific details of your circumstances so we will just talk in the most general terms.]
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Although the developed world has made great progress in the 3 'E's they have reached something of a plateau... the USA shows no signs of dipping below the 40,000 mark... the present system now appears to have reach its optimum level of efficiency and in all probability there will be no significant reductions unless there are some radical changes.  Which is why we believe they must now try some innovative solutions in order to tackle the one problem that has been neglected for a long time, and that is driver behaviour: [in addition to work in the area of the 3'E's, not instead of.]
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Although we talk about the Internet, the core idea is to involve as many people as possible in a pro-active way in order to exert 'Social Pressure' on people.  Let us give you an example... You have a problem with Buses... not pulling into the kerb properly to pick up passengers... and jumping red lights.  Under your present system, a traffic policeman could pull over the bus and give the driver a ticket/fine.  As this is very unlikely to happen the driver will probably just put it down to bad luck if it does, that it is something which is unlikely to happen again, and therefore, will probably be driving in exactly the same way the next day, even though they know it to be wrong.  The process has ended... you would have handed out one fine... but achieved nothing! 
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Now let us say that you have a system of reporting.  Perhaps the most basic type, where anyone could pick up a form from their local Post Office and report someone for dangerous driving.  [The general public are now involved.]  In our example, one copy would go to the local Police station for the area that the vehicle was registered in? [if that happens] and one copy would go to the Transport Manager of the bus station who would keep a file on every reported driver.  Your local traffic Policeman now has one point of contact, a person in a position of power who can influence the behaviour of his drivers, [which might be a considerable number.]
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Those drivers who were persistent and/or serious offenders would have to answer to their Manager who would in turn be answerable to the local Policeman.  This could be done quite informally, no points or fines involved, but if a driver had to go into the Managers office and maybe also see the Policeman at the same time, [if his behaviour had continued] it would be far more likely that this driver would make long term changes. As is generally accepted, the perception that you will be held to account/caught, is far more important than the severity of the punishment.  The drivers lose their sense of anonymity and this also provides a high profile warning to all the other bus drivers at the depot. [This idea is covered in more detail in the article: "The Trouble with Developing Countries?"]
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As you have a high rate of commercial vehicles to private cars, this might be done with every business that operates in an area and one traffic Policeman could then concentrate on their relationship with the Owners/Managers, giving them guidance, education and support in controlling their drivers, changing their individual behaviour, accessing and working through an existing hierarchy, rather than trying to catch individual drivers in the act and then just fining them.  If you can develop a reporting system and build a structure with specific points of contact, then just a few traffic Policemen can be quite effective.
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An Experiment... similar to this was carried out in New Zealand recently.  If a driver was reported 3 times in one year for dangerous driving, [which could be done by any member of the public] then a local Policeman would go around to their home for an informal chat about their driving habits.  They found this was very effective and there were very few drivers that they had to go back and visit a second time.
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Although you are obviously pursuing strategies in Education, Engineering and Enforcement we believe you also need to devise systems for changing the behaviour of individuals and these need to be appropriate for the circumstances and resources of your own country.  The Internet would certainly make this easier but it's not impossible to get to grips with this problem using conventional methods and limited resources.  [See blinkx Videos for more Information and News stories on this subject.]
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