The United Nations today joined forces with some of basketball’s biggest stars to launch a safe driving campaign, hoping to tap into the interest generated by this year’s world championships in Turkey to promote road safety, particularly among young people.
The campaign, supported by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), has adopted the motto “we play and drive by the rules” and aims to encourage respect for the rules, on the road and on the court, during the championships, which gets under way on Saturday and lasts until 12 September.
An estimated 1.3 million people die as a result of traffic crashes worldwide every year. The majority of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists and other road users not travelling in a vehicle. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young people aged between 5 and 29. An average 20 to 50 million people sustain non-fatal injuries from road traffic crashes each year. The injuries are a significant cause of disabilities worldwide.
Campaign organizers say there is ample evidence in many countries that respecting basic road safety rules dramatically reduces the risk of suffering a crash, and, in the event of a crash, drastically minimizes any adverse consequences.
The campaign will include video clips with Spanish professional basketball player José Calderón, Kerem Tunçeri of the Turkish national team and Harun Erdenay, the Turkish basketball legend. They will be broadcast in the arenas where the games will be played and on the television channels broadcasting the games. Information booths will also be displayed in the arenas in the four cities hosting the games – Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and Kayseri.
A declaration for road safety will be displayed in the arenas to invite the players of the various teams to join the campaign.
“The need for action to improve global road safety has been acknowledged by several resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and by the First Ministerial Conference on Road Safety held in November 2009 in Moscow,” said Ján Kubiš, UNECE Executive Secretary. “We hope that this joint campaign at the FIBA Basketball World Championship 2010 will contribute to spread the road safety message across the world and help save lives,” he added.
Patrick Baumann, FIBA Secretary General, said: “The basketball family has already lost a lot of its members on the road – famous stars as well as amateur players who travel by road every other week to play with their team. This is a needless, shocking and tragic loss of life which needs to be tackled urgently. With this campaign, FIBA hopes to hammer home the message that we want everybody, both in and out of the sport of basketball, to play and drive by the rules.”