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United Nations General Assembly adopts key resolution on road safety

The United Nations General Assembly has recently adopted a key resolution on road safety aimed at reducing death and injuries on the road.

The resolution invites Member States to implement the recommendations of the World Health Organization's (WHO) World report on road traffic injury prevention; to contribute to organization of the First United Nations Global Road Safety Week; and to recognize the third Sunday in November of every year as the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

Further, the resolution underlines the importance for Member States to continue using the WHO's WorldReport on Road Traffic Injury Prevention as a framework for road safety efforts. It calls for particular attention to the five identified risk factors: safety belts and child restraints, alcohol, helmets, inappropriate and excessive speed and infrastructure.

The resolution also hails and endorses the proposal of the Economic Commission for Europe in collaboration with WHO to host the first United Nations Global Road Safety Week in Geneva in April 2007 targeted at young road users, including young drivers.

"We are very encouraged by this historic resolution," said Etienne Krug, Director of the Department of Injury and Violence Prevention at WHO. "The content shows an evolution in thinking and a growing awareness of the need for continued efforts to improve road safety globally." The UN Resolution encourages Member States and the international community, including international and regional financial institutions, to lend financial, technical and political support to the United Nations and its agencies, including the World Health Organization, for their efforts to improve road safety.

The World report on road traffic injury prevention indicates that road crashes are the second leading cause of death globally among young people aged five to 29 and the third leading cause of death among people aged 30 to 44 years. Road crashes kill 1.2 million people every year and injure or disable as many as 50 million more. Without immediate action to improve road safety, it is estimated that road traffic deaths will increase by 80% in low- and middle-income countries by the year 2020.

Beyond the suffering they cause, the cost of road traffic injuries in these countries is estimated at US$ 65 billion, exceeding the total amount these countries receive in development assistance. The report demonstrates that much can be done to reduce the toll of deaths and injuries resulting from road traffic crashes, including taking action on drinking and driving, inappropriate and excessive speeding, the use of helmets and safety belts and modifications to infrastructure.

For more information contact:

Ms Laura Sminkey
Technical Officer
WHO Department of Injuries and Violence Prevention
Telephone: +41 22 791 4547
Mobile phone: +41 79 249 3520

Dr Etienne Krug
WHO Department of Injury and Violence Prevention
Telephone: +41 22 791 3535