Global perspective Human stories

More must be done to tackle global ‘crisis’ of road traffic deaths, says Ban

More must be done to tackle global ‘crisis’ of road traffic deaths, says Ban

With traffic accidents causing the deaths of more than one million people every year, more than malaria or diabetes, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged greater efforts to better protect the millions upon millions who travel the world’s roads every day.

“Road traffic deaths and injuries are preventable,” Mr. Ban stressed to participants at the First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, which began in Moscow yesterday.

In a message delivered by Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva, Mr. Ban noted that the vast majority of those killed every year in road accidents are in low- and middle-income countries.

In addition, some 50 million people are severely injured, costing governments 1 to 3 per cent of their gross national products.

“Behind these staggering statistics lie the enormous suffering and grief that road accidents inflict on families and communities,” stated Mr. Ban. “Our lives have come to depend on mobility. But mobility should not come at such a high price.”

He highlighted UN efforts in raising awareness, mobilizing support and fostering cooperation to address what he said should be regarded as a “crisis.”

At the same time, he called for greater efforts to limit the economic and emotional devastation caused by poor road safety, while creating sustainable transport systems that protect the environment from climate change.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) released a study in June, assessing some 178 countries on implementation of road safety measures, including limiting speed, reducing drunk driving, and use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets.

The “Global Status Report on Road Safety” found that about half of the 1.27 million people killed in traffic accidents ever year are not in cars, but are pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists. In addition, only 57 per cent of countries have laws that require all car occupants to wear seat-belts, and less than one third meet basic criteria for reducing speed in urban areas.

“I call on Governments, vehicle manufacturers, public and private donors, NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and experts to work together towards tangible goals such as safer roads and vehicles, and greater investment in preventing road traffic injuries,” said Mr. Ban.