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The UN tackles road safety

Note for the media

WHO welcomes the proclamation by the UN General Assembly of the first "Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020" which seeks to halt the increasing trends in road traffic deaths and injuries worldwide.

"This Decade of Action for Road Safety is long overdue," says WHO Assistant Director-General Dr Ala Alwan. "It will help us increase action to address what will otherwise become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030."

Road traffic injuries are a major public health problem, killing nearly 1.3 million people each year and injuring as many as 50 million. They are the leading cause of death for children and young people aged 5–29 years. Almost half of the world's road traffic fatalities are among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and more than 90% occur in developing countries.

While road traffic death rates in many high-income countries have stabilized or declined in recent decades, research suggests road deaths are increasing in most regions of the world. If trends continue unabated deaths will rise to an estimated 2.4 million a year by 2030.

Actions to improve safety

Through the Decade, Member States with the support of the international community, commit to actions such as:

  • developing and enforcing legislation on key risk factors including limiting speed;
  • reducing drink-driving; and
  • increasing the use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets.

Efforts will also be undertaken to improve emergency trauma care, upgrade road and vehicle safety standards, promote road safety education and enhance road safety management in general.

This recent initiative comes on the heels of the First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, hosted by the Government of the Russian Federation in November 2009. The "Moscow Declaration" issued by ministers and senior officials from 150 countries underlines the importance of protecting all road users, in particular those who are most vulnerable such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

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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
E-mail: sminkeyl@who.int