Second UN Global Road Safety Week

Key messages

The Second UN Global Road Safety Week, to be held 6-12 May 2013, offers a unique opportunity to draw attention to the issue of pedestrian safety. We are all pedestrians: on any given day, we choose to walk to and from our various destinations or - at a minimum – we begin and end most trips on foot. Walking requires no fare, no fuel, no license and no registration. It is integral to the liveability of our communities.

Pedestrians comprise around one quarter of the annual global road deaths. Due to a lack of attention to their needs, and a tendency in recent decades to favour private motorized transport, pedestrians are today at an increased risk of death, injury and disability. Many of those killed are children and older people. The majority of fatalities occur in low-income and middle-income countries, settings where rapid motorization poses additional challenges; however, pedestrian safety remains a concern in countries worldwide.

Much can be done to make our world more walkable, by providing safe, reliable and accessible facilities for all pedestrians. There is no single measure to adequately address the range of risks to pedestrians across various settings. Some of the most effective are managing vehicle speeds; separating pedestrians from other traffic by sidewalks and crosswalks; increasing the visibility of pedestrians; and ensuring the responsible behaviour of all road users. Enacting appropriate laws around such measures, enhancing enforcement and ensuring links with other modes of transport can save lives.

Guaranteeing the safety of pedestrians will encourage walking which improves health. Walking reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, dementia, depression and obesity. As travel by motor vehicles is reduced, there are also declines in air and noise pollution, which also positively impact on health. Walking can make us healthier, fitter and leaner, and should become the safest and most convenient and pleasant option for most trips.