Magazine article UN Chronicle

'Road Safety Is No Accident'

Magazine article UN Chronicle

'Road Safety Is No Accident'

Article excerpt

With 1.26 million deaths in 2000, and an average toll of 3,000 fatalities a day, road traffic accidents are an epidemic. And while traffic deaths are going down in developed countries, they are rapidly accelerating in the developing world, particularly in Asia, where motorization rates are high. Traffic fatalities hurt poorer countries more, but poorer people within those countries--pedestrians, cyclists and bus riders--are more often the victims of vehicular accidents. In some nations, air pollution from road transport causes even more deaths than from traffic accidents.

At a plenary meeting on 14 April 2004, the UN General Assembly will tackle the issue of the "global road safety crisis". The World Health Organization (WHO) designated "Road Safety" as the theme for World Health Day 2004 on 7 April and Road Safety Week on 5 to 11 April. The campaign's cry is "road safety is no accident".

During the week, hundreds of organizations around the globe will host events to help raise awareness about road traffic injuries, their grave consequences and their enormous costs to society. On 15 April, the UN Department of Public Information will hold a meeting of specialists, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the media, with expert presentations throughout the day.

Considering that almost all traffic accidents are preventable, world and local leaders have their work cut out for them.

They could follow examples from countries and cities that have managed to drastically reduce traffic fatalities, such as Seoul, Republic of Korea, where a massive media campaign spurred the city to centre traffic planning around pedestrians; or Bogota, Colombia, where mimes educated drivers to respect zebra pedestrian crossings. …

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