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Lamenting car crash deaths, UN chief urges greater attention to road safety

Lamenting car crash deaths, UN chief urges greater attention to road safety

Photo: Aus Roads
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today lamented the tragedy of needless deaths and injuries from road accidents and exhorted the world to intensify efforts to minimize the crashes by coming up with innovative plans to reduce the risks associated with them.

“With the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, we have a roadmap. Our goal is to save 5 million lives between now and the year 2020,” Mr. Ban said at a joint event in New York with the city’s mayor Michael Bloomberg to promote road safety.

“The plan focuses on the big risks: speeding, drinking and driving, and failing to use seatbelts, helmets and child restraints. It calls for better infrastructure. It also calls for innovation,” said Mr. Ban.

He commended Mr. Bloomberg for his “dramatic efforts” to make New York’s streets and highways safer for drivers and their passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. He thanked the mayor for his $125 million gift two years ago for road safety projects in 10 low- and middle-income countries, the categories of countries that account for nearly half of all road deaths.

The first global Decade of Action for Road Safety was launched yesterday in an effort to reduce a scourge that kills an estimated 1.3 million people every year and leaves millions of others injured or permanently disabled.

Governments around the world are holding public events this week and unveiling national safety plans as they kick off the Decade of Action, which the UN World Health Organization (WHO) hopes will provide the necessary spur for a united response to the problem.

Road accidents represent the ninth leading cause of death in the world today and are already the biggest killer of people aged between 15 and 29. Between 20 million and 50 million others receive non-fatal injuries every year.

The problem is also worsening. By the end of this decade, the number of deaths is projected to reach 1.9 million per year.