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It’s Official: Ecuador Has a New Life-Saving Transit Law

Ecuador’s advocates rallied to strengthen a new bill that was just published in Ecuador’s Official Register. Here’s how they did it.

Every year, 1.35 million people die as a result of road traffic crashes. It is the 8th leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5 to 29 years. In Ecuador, road traffic crashes are the 6th leading cause of death, with 16,972 traffic crashes, 13,099 injuries and 1,591 deaths last year alone. On August 11, 2021, the new Transit Law was officially published and will help alleviate this burden.

This April, Ecuador took huge strides toward reducing this toll with the passage of a new national Transit Bill. The Bill, introduced last year in Ecuador’s National Assembly, contains key road safety measures, including speed reduction and helmet use—measures demonstrated to reduce injuries and save lives.

The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) played a supporting role in this success story. We worked in close collaboration with Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) and Johns Hopkins University to support partners in Ecuador, including Asociación de Usuarios y Consumidores del Ecuador, Fundación Ciudadana de Movilidad y Seguridad Vial and road safety advocate Fundación CAVAT Nicole Paredes, to advocate for a stronger Transit Bill.

This collaboration yielded a set of recommendations based on global best practices for policymakers that would strengthen the legislation to make sure approved and certificated helmet use is adopted, as well as a reduction in speed limits. Fundación CAVAT Nicole Paredes later delivered the joint recommendations to the National Assembly.

Civil society partners identified an opportunity to draw public and media attention to the recommendations in order to maximize the impact of their collective actions. GHAI worked with a strategic communications firm based in Ecuador to provide the organizations with media and spokesperson training, and to co-develop key messages, press releases and media outreach. In the lead-up to the vote in the National Assembly, partners conducted a social media campaign — including live-tweeting an event during Road Safety Week to discuss the recommendations — using the hashtag #LeyDeTransito.

These advocacy efforts in the media helped to build public demand and solidify legislators as champions. Ecuador’s road safety advocates secured 44 interviews across TV, print and radio channels as well as on various digital platforms. Media stories appeared in El Universo, Ecuador’s most-read newspaper. Spokespeople from Fundación CAVAT Nicole Paredes, Fundación Ciudadana de Movilidad y Seguridad Vial and the Asociación de Usuarios y Consumidores del Ecuador were quoted in more than 100 articles, reaching more than three million people in Ecuador.

The media attention attracted wide interest from Ecuadorians, including legislators, many of whom became engaged in the conversation on social media by tweeting and retweeting messages about the importance of approving the Transit Law and passing the law to the Official Registry for safer roads.

On April 30, 2021, the National Assembly approved the Transit Bill by a 96-0 vote. The Transit Bill includes:

  • The reduction of speed limits to 30km/h in urban and residential areas and 20km/h in school zones.
  • The mandatory use of approved certificated helmets for drivers and passengers; and,
  • The reduction of tariffs on safety equipment for the users (e.g., approved helmets, child restraint systems) to 0%.

Passing a law is only the first step. Just as important is ensuring that it can be implemented equitably and effectively. Advocates in Ecuador are already facilitating the development of implementing rules and regulations for the Transit Law and bring even safer roads to the country.