All drivers of United Nations vehicles are now prohibited from using their mobile telephones to send text messages while driving under a new measure unveiled today by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to try to promote road safety and save lives.
“We are seeing a major emerging challenge – driver distraction, mainly by using mobile phones,” Mr. Ban told reporters in New York has he helped launch a global campaign to improve road safety by ending habits that distract the attention of drivers.
“Studies indicate that using a mobile phone increases the risk of a crash by about four times. And yet in some countries up to 90 per cent of people use mobile phones while driving,” the Secretary-General said.
He announced he was issuing an administrative instruction banning all drivers of UN vehicles from texting as they drive.
An estimated 1.2 million people die as a result of car crashes across the world every year and about 50 million others are injured, Mr. Ban said, noting that 90 percent of the fatalities happen in low and middle income countries.
“I want every driver in the world to get the message: Texting while driving kills. No SMS is worth SOS,” the Secretary-General said.
Road accidents have become the leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 29, Mr. Ban said, adding that speeding, driving while drunk and failing to use seat belts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets increased the risk of death in the event of a crash.
“A culture in which driving while distracted – on the phone, or text messaging – is unacceptable. Unacceptable in the eyes of the law and the public,” the Secretary-General said.
In March, the UN General Assembly proclaimed the period from 2011 to 2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety to spur national and global efforts to halt or reverse the increasing trend in road traffic deaths and injuries around the world.
In the resolution, Member States also requested the World Health Organization (WHO), in cooperation with other partners, to prepare a plan of action to guide efforts during the Decade, which was requested at the First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, held in Moscow last year.