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The United Nations and Road Safety

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

Since the adoption of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/5, the observance has spread to a growing number of countries on every continent.

The Day has become an important tool in global efforts to reduce road casualties. It offers an opportunity for
drawing attention to the scale of emotional and economic devastation caused by road crashes and for giving recognition to the suffering of road crash victims and the work of support and rescue services. In 2008, remembrance services and other related events were held in such countries as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa, Uganda and the United States, and almost every country in Europe.

A dedicated website was also launched to make the Day more widely known and to link countries through sharing common objectives and the remembrance of people killed and injured in crashes.

UN Secretary-General's message for 2013

On this World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, we call attention to the fact that every year, crashes take the lives of almost 1.24 million people and injure as many as 50 million more, leaving some with permanent disability.

Behind these statistics are grieving parents, children, siblings, colleagues and friends. Their struggle is not only emotional; traffic accidents often take a severe financial toll, with many families reduced to poverty through either the loss of a breadwinner or the costs associated with lost income and prolonged medical care.

I applaud the fact that governments have agreed to a Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011-2020, with the target of saving 5 million lives. I welcome action by cities around the world to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and all other road users. Sidewalks, crosswalks, overpasses and roadway lighting are being installed; laws on drunk driving, speeding, wearing seatbelts and prohibiting texting and other dangerous use of mobile phones while driving are being enacted and enforced; pedestrian zones are being created in city centres; and emergency trauma care is being enhanced to ensure the prompt treatment of those with life-threatening injuries.

As the international community works to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, I call for more concerted action on road safety as part of the future development agenda. This will be a vital component of efforts to improve health and save lives in the years ahead.  

On this World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, let us work to make more roads safe for all who use them. Together, we can save millions of lives.

Ban Ki-moon
17 November 2013