Mexico’s new Mobility and Road Safety Law could be a game-changer

1 May 2022
Cyclist circulating on a separate cyclist lane, behind him, a motorcyclist and two vehicles

1 May 2022, Mexico City.- 

Mexico’s National Law of Mobility and Road Safety, passed by the country’s Senate in December 2021, marks a major step forward in the country’s efforts to reduce the stubbornly high numbers road traffic deaths and to boost equitable and sustainable access to transport services for everyone.

Despite extensive work at the national and sub-national levels, the country of nearly 130 million saw road traffic fatalities stay consistently high in recent years, with more than 16 000 deaths in 2016.

The diffuse structure of the Mexican federal government made progress challenging. Laws around speeding, alcohol limits and licensing were created sub-nationally, with levels of government responsible for planning, designing and operating transport systems operating largely independently.

A crucial constitutional amendment came in 2020 that made ‘mobility under the conditions of safety, accessibility, efficiency, sustainability, quality, inclusion and equality,’ a universal right.

 The stage was then set for a new national law to harmonize all actions and to enshrine an integrated safe systems approach that recognizes road safety as being key to saving lives and meeting Mexico’s wider Sustainable Development Goals.

Landmark Law

The new Law of Mobility and Road Safety calls for the establishment of the proven and life-saving ‘Safe Systems’ approach that is in line with the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

The law clarifies the roles and responsibilities within the Mexican government and calls for the creation of a unified database for licenses, number plates and fines. It incorporates the majority of WHO’s recommendations to promote the safe use of devices such as helmets, seatbelts and child restraints and to reduce road users exposure to key risk factors such as speeding, using mobile phones while driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Mexico’s landmark mobility law should be seen as an integrated component of many other crucial policy areas, including child health, climate action, gender, poverty and equity. With the country’s mobility systems now firmly rooted in safety, it will bring a range of wider benefits to health, the environment, reducing the social and economic toll of road safety tragedies. It should significantly reduce road traffic deaths in Mexico.

WHO/PAHO support

Since 2008 WHO/PAHO has been central to Mexico’s progress in mobility and road safety, working with partners to build up the systems, capacities and awareness needed to drive progress at all levels, including through funds from the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety.

Through funding, training and multiple awareness raising campaigns, WHO/PAHO helped strengthen Mexico’s Mobility Coalition that successfully campaigned for the new law. The coalition brought together 70 civil society organizations from 25 of Mexico’s 32 states.

WHO/PAHO also engaged in high-level advocacy and coordination to help shape and build momentum for the new law, by working closely with influential Mexican Senators and officials and coordinating across the United Nations system at the global, regional and country levels.

Over the years WHO/PAHO has worked with local authorities to produce crucial technical documents to advance police enforcement around road safety, including:

  • A guide to implement traffic surveillance and control interventions
  • A national programme to conduct police alcohol checkpoints.
  • Protocols for the implementation of the police alcohol checkpoints

In support of these actions WHO/PAHO also supported a number of social marketing campaigns, as well as targeting training programmes for 67 leading journalists. Working with the government and civil society, WHO/PAHO provided technical and legal support for the development of Mexico’s Mobility Plan for a New Normality in 2020.