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Secretary-General Ban urges united effort on improving road safety

Secretary-General Ban urges united effort on improving road safety

Observing that “road safety will not happen by accident,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on government ministers, community and business leaders, parents, insurers, car makers, the media, survivors of road accidents and others to play their part in toughening laws and regulations to reduce the death and injury toll from crashes.

Mr. Ban marked the first United Nations Global Road Safety Week, which began today, with a call for greater political will, financial investment and decisions “at the highest levels of government” to cut the number of accidents – many of which are entirely preventable.

A report released last week by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that road traffic crashes have become the leading cause of death for people aged between 10 and 24, with nearly 400,000 people in that age bracket killed every year and millions of others permanently disabled or injured. Global Road Safety Week is dedicated to young road users this year.

The overwhelming majority of those deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, and the report concluded that, on average, the crashes cost such nations more than one per cent of their gross national product (GNP) in health care, material and other expenses.

In his message marking Global Road Safety Week, Mr. Ban praised recent initiatives undertaken by several countries, such as mandating the use of helmets and seat belts and toughening measures against speeding and drink driving.

“A significant number of lives can be saved and resources spared, even as motorization continues to rise,” if such initiatives are introduced into other countries as well, Mr. Ban said.

As part of Global Road Safety Week, a two-day World Youth Assembly for Road Safety involving more than 100 delegates will be staged in Geneva so that young people can share experiences and plan projects to encourage more awareness about the issue.