In December 2005, United Nations General Assembly resolution A/60/5 on Improving global road safety called for a Global Road Safety Week. This resolution followed others from both the United Nations General Assembly and the World Health Assembly that reflected the growing concern over the problem of road traffic injuries on the part of governments and of the international public health and development communities. The Week will be modeled on previous Road Safety Weeks organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and on World Health Day 2004.
The First United Nations Global Road Safety Week is an historic opportunity to raise the issue of road traffic injuries to a higher level. During the Week, it is expected that hundreds of initiatives – local, national, regional and global – will take place around the world, organized by governments, nongovernmental organizations, United Nations and other international agencies, private sector companies, foundations and others working for safer roads. The Week will be marked in all countries and by many communities. It is hoped the events of the Week will serve as launching points for new and effective road safety initiatives in the years ahead.
Children and young people make up a high proportion of the nearly 1.2 million people killed on the world’s roads every year. Globally, more than 40% of all road traffic deaths occur among people aged 0–25 years. Because children and young people constitute a major group at risk of death, injury and disability on the roads, the First United Nations Global Road Safety Week will be dedicated to “young road users”, who travel the roads as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, novice drivers and passengers. While the focus of the Week is on improving safety for children and young people, the actions resulting from the Week, such as initiatives to reduce drink-driving and excessive speeding, will benefit road users of all ages.
As with many similar global advocacy initiatives, participants in the First United Nations Global Road Safety Week will aim to draw attention to the theme of the Week and spur governments and civil society organizations into urgent action. The objectives of the Week are:
- to raise awareness about the impact of road traffic injuries, particularly among young road users;
- to promote action around the factors with the greatest impact on road traffic injuries: helmets, seatbelts, drink-driving, speeding and road design and infrastructure.
For many low-income and middle-income countries not yet addressing the problem of road traffic injuries in a significant or comprehensive way, to achieve these objectives will be an important step towards improving the health and well-being of their citizens.