8 May 2013
Press Release
ENV/DEV/1358
OBV/1217

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Road Safety Week Opens with Aim of Spotlighting Need for Safer,

 

More Sustainable Transportation

 


With more than 270,000 pedestrians losing their lives on the world’s roads each year, the Second United Nations Global Road Safety Week began today with calls from United Nations officials to improve road safety and sustainable transportation solutions.


Globally, 1.2 million people die from car accidents each year, and pedestrian deaths account for almost a quarter of all transportation fatalities.  Nearly 85 per cent of the road deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, which suffer an annual income loss amounting to $65 billion.


“Accidents are the world’s leading cause of death for those between 15 and 29 years old,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message for the Week.  “There are nearly 1 billion cars on the roads today.  By 2030, that number will double.”  Mr. Ban added that in addition to human suffering, road crashes inflict a high economic toll on individuals and society.


World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Margaret Chan said, “Road traffic injury is a major global health issue,” adding that there are many actions that can be taken to reduce the number of deaths and injuries.  Promoting pedestrian safety and walking, she said, brings about a number of health benefits that includes reducing non-communicable diseases, diabetes and obesity.


Ms. Chan said, “We would like to encourage Governments to make sure that they take action and not miss this golden opportunity because they are getting benefits on multiple fronts.”


Under the banner “Make Walking Safe”, the Second United Nations Global Road Safety Week (6-12 May) kicks off worldwide.  With events registered in nearly 70 countries, the Week seeks to draw attention to the needs of pedestrians; generate action on measures to protect them; and contribute to achieving the goal of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 to save 5 million lives.


United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo said Road Safety Week highlights the need to take action now to promote safety and economic development.  “Many cities and their urban populations are growing fast, in particular in developing countries.  They urgently need more investment in improved public transport infrastructure and services, including better infrastructure for safer non-motorized transport, such as biking and walking in inner city areas,” he said, adding that such actions are fundamental for economic prosperity, securing access to employment, improving social equity and promoting healthy living — all essential building blocks of sustainable development.


According to a new WHO road safety manual, there are many steps that can be taken to protect pedestrians on the roads, and there are many steps that Governments and communities can take to improve road safety through improved enforcement, engineering and education measures. 


The proportion of pedestrians killed in relation to other road users is highest in the African Region, at 38 per cent, and lowest in the South-East Asia Region, at 12 per cent.  In some countries, the proportion of pedestrian fatalities can reach nearly two thirds of road traffic deaths, such as in El Salvador (62 per cent) and Liberia (66 per cent).


Efforts to promote sustainable transport gathered momentum at last year’s Rio+20 Conference, where major multilateral development banks committed themselves to providing $175 billion to financing more sustainable transport projects over the next 10 years.  The Rio+20 outcome “The Future We Want” called on Governments to support the development of sustainable transport systems, including energy efficient multi-modal transport systems, notably public mass transportation systems, clean fuels and vehicles.


To follow up on sustainable transport, a High-level Dialogue on Implementing Rio+20 Decisions on Sustainable Cities and Transport will be held in Berlin from 19-21 June 2013.  More information can be found at http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/1701flyer2.pdf.


Additional information on Road Safety Week and related events can be found at http://www.who.int/roadsafety/week/2013/en/index.html, or by contacting Laura Sminkey, WHO Geneva, tel.: +41 22 791 4547; mobile: +41 79 249 3520; e-mail:  sminkeyl@who.int; or Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.: +1 212 963 9495, e-mail:  shepard@un.org.


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For information media • not an official record