Note No. 5861
7 April 2004


Press Release
Note No. 5861

Note to Correspondents



Global Road Safety Crisis Claims 1.2 Million Lives per Year

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will address a plenary session of the General Assembly on the global road safety crisis on 14 April.  This meeting and the stakeholders’ meeting to follow on 15 April are an important step in a coordinated global effort to slow and then stop a growing crisis of death and disability on roads and highways, especially in developing countries.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)/World Bank World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, released on World Health Day today, nearly 1.2 million people die in road traffic crashes each year, and between 20 and 50 million are injured or disabled.  Ninety per cent of road traffic deaths occur in low- or middle-income countries, where the most vulnerable are pedestrians, cyclists, users of motorized two-wheelers, and passengers on public transport.  The global economic costs of road traffic injuries amount to $518 billion per year, with developing countries bearing $100 billion of the cost.  Without appropriate action, this problem will only get worse, the report says. 

The success of developed countries in decreasing death and injury rates and in making their roads safer offers hope that the global crisis can be reversed.  But the challenges posed by conditions in the developing countries require the commitment of a global alliance to support the changes in practices and the political and social will needed to help the developing countries attain success.

The two-day United Nations meetings follow today’s observance of World Health Day, which focuses on global road safety, and the release of the WHO/World Bank Report. The United Nations meetings will build on the global events of World Health Day to begin a long-term collaborative effort across countries and the many sectors of society to address this problem.  The events of the two days are as follows:

-- Events on 14 April include a plenary session of the General Assembly, meeting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., which will address global road safety and adopt a resolution to create commitment to global action.  The speakers will be General Assembly President Julian Hunte; Secretary-General Kofi Annan; WHO Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-Wook; Jean-Louis Sarbib, Senior Vice President for Human Development, World Bank; Carol Bellamy, Director, United Nations Children’s Fund

(UNICEF); and Zephirin Diabre, Associate Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  Member States will comment beginning with the Sultanate of Oman, represented by Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, followed by other countries.

-- On 14 April, a special demonstration for the press on the effectiveness of safety restraints will take place from 10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in front of the United Nations Visitors’ Entrance, First Avenue at 46th Street.  Richard Pepe, Deputy Director of the Institute for Traffic Care, will provide information during the demonstration, which involves two vehicles -– a rollover simulator which uses life-size dummies to simulate the occupant dynamics of a vehicle rolling over at 25 m.p.h., and a sled which simulates the impact of a 5-7 m.p.h. frontal impact on a seat-belted human volunteer.  The vehicles will be in operation on 14 and 15 April from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The demonstration is organized in cooperation with the New York State Police and the New York City Police Department.

-- On 14 April, a press conference at 12:30 p.m., in room S-226, will feature WHO Director-General Dr. Lee Jong-Wook, Omani Permanent Representative Fuad Al-Hinai, and Dr. Mark Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Task Force for Child Survival and Development.

-- Events on 15 April include a Stakeholder Forum on “Global Road Safety -- A Shared Responsibility”, taking place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, which will discuss solutions to the global road injury epidemic that can be undertaken by various sectors of society.  A set of panels will present an overview of the growing epidemic of road traffic injuries, the global perspective of placing the importance of safety as central to health and economic well-being of countries, and the collaboration across nations required for the task.

The first morning session will present the vision for global road safety and the parallel interests at the levels of the United Nations, individual countries, and concerned citizens.  It will feature Dr. Rosenberg, who will moderate, and  Dr. Bruce Browner and Dr. Wahid Al-Kharusi, both of the Bone and Joint Decade, a non-governmental organization dedicated to improve the quality of life for people with musculo-skeletal disorders throughout the world.

The second session will present key findings from the WHO/World Bank Report, along with a framework for analysis and with actions to be taken by governments, civil society and the private sector.  It will feature presentations from Margie Peden (WHO) and Alison Drayton (UNDP).

The following panel will focus on the resources and political will that made the significant reduction of road traffic injuries in Sweden possible; the morality of saving lives; and creating common demand, principles, and commitment for safety through global collaboration.  The speakers are Claes Tingvall, Swedish National Road Administration; Bernard Perisset, Working Party on Road Safety, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; and David Ward, Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Foundation for Automobile and Society.

The role of governments will be discussed by Costa Rica’s former Transport Minister Karla Gonzalez and Ireland’s Transport Minister Séamus Brennan, as well as by Marilena Amoni, Associate Administrator, United States National Highway

Safety Administration, and Dr. Steve Blount, United StatesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 3 p.m. session will examine the role of the private sector, featuring Jim Micali, Chairman of Michelin North America; Jens Hügel, International Road Transport Union; and Ivan Hodac, European Automobile Manufacturers Association, as well as the role of civil society, discussed by Rohit Baluja, President of India’s Institute of Road Traffic Education; Prof. Adnan A. Hyder, Johns Hopkins University; and Rochelle Sobel, Association for Safe International Road Travel.  Specialists from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, UNICEF and the Global Road Safety Partnership will discuss country practices and technical assistance.

The event is coordinated by the Non-governmental Organization Section of the United Nations Department of Public Information, together with the Permanent Mission of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations, the Task Force on Child Survival and Development, and various United Nations offices.

Contact:  Edoardo Bellando or Tala Dowlatshahi, Department of Public Information, e-mail:, tel. (212) 963-8275 or, (212) 963-1859, or visit Media Accreditation Guidelines:

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For information media. Not an official record.