A successful road safety initiative launched by our Panamanian business, Cervecería Nacional, is now being replicated across Latin America.

As part of Sustainable Development Goal to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing, the United Nations has set a target to halve global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.  We fully support this goal, as in many countries where we operate, traffic accidents are a major cause of fatalities, making them a significant issue for our business as well as for society. Road accidents account for a significant number of our employee and contractor injuries and fatalities.

In 2015, our seven Latin American operating companies launched the Por un Buen Camino (On the Right Track) campaign. This aims to develop road safety solutions to protect road users, while sharing best practice and lessons learned among governments, the private sector and other interested stakeholders.

The region-wide programme builds on a successful initiative that has been run by our Panamanian business, Cervecería Nacional, since 2011. Originally named Respeta la Via, Respeta la Vida (which translates to Respect the Road, Respect Life), the initiative is endorsed by the Panamanian Ministry of Health and is delivered through a partnership of public and private sector bodies. These include the Traffic and Transport Authority, national police, NGOs, community groups, the beer and spirits industry, plus telecommunications and media organisations.

Using a mixture of social and traditional media, as well as messages on Cervecería Nacional’s vehicle fleet, the programme deals with topics such as texting while driving, speeding, road infrastructure, vehicle safety and drink-driving. By deliberately highlighting all the most dangerous behaviours behind the wheel, the programme has tackled these issues, as well as reducing the misconception that the majority of road accidents in the country are due to drink-driving. In fact, the two top causes are speeding and the use of mobile phones while driving, so these are key behaviours that the programme aims to change, alongside drink-driving.

Since its launch in 2011, the programme has been credited with making a meaningful contribution to road safety in Panama both through changing behaviours and promoting appropriate investment in roads and vehicles. Between 2010 and 2014 there was a 15% reduction in traffic accidents with injuries. In addition, figures released by the Ministry of Health in 2014 showed that road fatalities had been reduced by 88 between 2010 and 2013, a quantity of saved lives the Ministry cited as “significant and important to society”.

Related stories