Presidents message after ITMA’s 23rd World Congress in Hamburg

ITMA's mission to reduce harm from traffic crashes grows more and more important as already well over one million people are killed on the world's roads each year. That number keeps increasing as the number of vehicles is increasing, causing yet more deaths and injuries from traffic crashes.  ITMA provides a forum for researchers and practitioners from around the world to share experiences and knowledge enabling them to return to their countries with ideas they have acquired from each other.  This allows them to hasten the process of decreasing human suffering from injuries and deaths in traffic in their own countries.

Working together between experts from different professions is important to reach this goal. Our recent meeting in Hamburg fulfilled many aspects of this. We were physicians, engineers, researchers, students and practitioners, decision makers, politicians, officials from different authorities and NGOs, young and old, experienced and novice. Coming from such different parts of the world as Denmark, Qatar, Canada, China, Estonia, Iran, USA, Philippines, Sweden, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Italy, Indonesia, Australia, Belgium, Macedonia, France and of course from our hosting country Germany. Many more countries were represented by delegates meeting each other in the common English language.

We discussed matters of traffic safety of concern for all of us in different fields such as fitness to drive and how to measure, categorise and treat victims of traffic crashes. We had sessions on the epidemiology of crashes and on how to achieve safe mobility in cases where fitness to drive criteria were not met. We also discussed and learned about traffic safety at sea and were told about how analysing the dead body of traffic injury victims could give us new knowledge to prevent death to happen in future crashes. We heard about young and old drivers, problems with drunk and drugged driving were discussed and examples of different solutions from around the world were given. We had good examples of organisational models from different parts of the world. The model of doctors and psychologists working close together in teams in Germany gave new aspects of driver fitness.

We heard about why USA is lagging behind in traffic safety compared to other countries, how a "doctor's warning" could halve the injuries from subsequent crashes, critical views on excluding to many drivers at risk to have a cardiac arrest at the wheel and how emergency transport and care is organised in Chongqing, China. We were provocatively asked if we really need driver assistance systems in cars and learned how the older driver can connect well with such devices. These subjects are given only as examples of the abundance of interesting themes. Discussions at sessions and in intervals were vivid and the time flew away all too quickly.

We also had a great time in Hamburg, meeting old friends and making new acquaintances at social events such as the get together and the different surprise tours we were given. The new idea to have the persons taking part in the different tours giving short presentations of their tour and showing (only the best) pictures from it gave us all the opportunity to learn from each other and get to know new friends. At the very well organized and splendid gala dinner our esteemed president emeritus Leonard Evans was awarded the ITMA Award for Outstanding Contributions to Traffic Medicine and we all had a good time. Even singing was heard from different corners of the room. The beauty of Hamburg in spring was not shadowed by the umbrellas we had to use from time to time. The traffic situation in central parts was calm and in many areas cars were not at all present and only an abundance of bicyclists, joggers and other pedestrians were seen.

Safe personal mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists, car drivers, and passengers in all sorts of vehicles including cars, busses, trains, boats, and airplanes is increasingly important and valuable for a world that is shrinking due to expanding communication between and within countries.  Looking at the traffic situation in a new country with your own eyes, meeting in Hamburg with old friends and making new friends, networking and also having a good time together added to the value of this so very well organised World Congress.  We owe a lot to the local organisers and as ITMA's president I am proud to say thank you for all the good work done in preparing and having us at ITMA 23 in Hamburg.

We hope our next congress will be in 2015 and discussions with quite a few candidate countries are proceeding. All members of the ITMA board were re-elected with the exception our esteemed treasurer and organiser of ITMA 17 in Stockholm in 2000, Kurt Johansson, who resigned after serving ITMA so well for many years, resigned and was succeeded by our new board member Sven Hultman from Sweden who will be acting treasurer. Kurt is gradually giving him the material and knowledge needed for this important mission. Thank you Kurt and welcome Sven!

In agreement with the wishes of our president elect, Professor Zhenggou Wang, I decided to stay as president at least until there is a decision of an organizer for ITMA 24. We are all looking forward to yet another interesting congress and preferably one in a 'less motorized' country outside Europe. I hope to meet you all there!

For you to be a member in ITMA give us the possibility to prepare for the next congress and give you all the possibility to share what is new in Traffic Medicine. Welcome to apply for membership and by this also have electronic access to our Scientific Journal Traffic Injury and Prevention.

Lars Englund, ITMA president

The International Traffic and Medicine Association