Eventos Pasados

Naciones Unidas

Primer Foro Global de las Naciones Unidas
con Actores de la Seguridad Vial
Sede de las Naciones Unidas, NuevaYork
14 de abril de 2004

Si desea información sobre la reunión de la Asamblea General de la Naciones Unidas de 2004, el Primer Foro Global de las Naciones Unidas con Actores de la Seguridad Vial y los acontecimientos históricos que hicieron posible estas reuniones, lea el informe completo de la reunión The Global Road Safety Crisis: We Should Do Much More. Este informe documenta los sucesos críticos que condujeron a la identificación de la epidemia mundial que atenta contra la seguridad vial y la movilización para contrarrestarla: la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas del 14 de abril de 2004, el Foro con los Actores de la Seguridad Vial del 15 de abril, el Día Mundial de la Seguridad Vial de 2004, y la publicación del Informe mundial sobre prevención de los traumatismos causados por el tránsitode la Organización Mundial de la Salud y el Banco Mundial.  El informe completo está disponible en formato pdf.

Segundo Foro Global de las Naciones Unidas
con Actores de la Seguridad Vial
Palacio de las Naciones, Ginebra, Suiza
25 de abril de 2007

El Segundo Foro Global de las Naciones Unidas con Actores de la Seguridad Vial se reunió justo tres años después de que la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS) y el Banco Mundial dieran a conocer el Informe mundial sobre prevención de los traumatismos causados por el tránsito y de que la OMS dedicara el Día Mundial de la Salud a la seguridad vial. El Segundo Foro Global de las Naciones Unidas con Actores de la Seguridad Vial se congregó para llamar la atención de que a pesar de los logros obtenidos había una brecha creciente entre los países desarrollados y los países en vías de desarrollo y en etapa de transición; el problema de los traumatismos por accidentes de tránsito se está agravando en los dos últimos grupos. Los participantes de cada región hicieron notar que si no podemos acelerar nuestra respuesta a la epidemia de muertes por accidentes de tráfico en los países de bajos y medianos ingresos —mediante la movilización de reglamentaciones más efectivas, la construcción de carreteras más seguras, el cambio del comportamiento de los usuarios de las vías y la provisión de una mejor atención— perderemos decenas de millones de vidas antes de que estos problemas lleguen a un pico y comiencen una curva declinante.

Los participantes del Segundo Foro Global de las Naciones Unidas con Actores de la Seguridad Vial manifestaron un sentido de urgencia y de importancia respecto a la necesidad de cerrar la brecha de la seguridad vial entre los países desarrollados y los países en vías de desarrollo y en etapa de transición. Los participantes del Foro se comprometieron a apoyar cuatro iniciativas clave en el ámbito mundial: la Iniciativa de Colaboración para la Seguridad Vial de las Naciones Unidas, las recomendaciones de la Comisión Robertson sobre Carreteras Seguras, el Fondo Global para la Seguridad Vial del Banco Mundial y la Conferencia Ministerial de las Naciones Unidas sobre Seguridad Vial que se llevará a cabo en 2009 o 2010. La mayoría de los participantes apoyaron y respaldaron cada una de esas iniciativas; muchos aportaron ideas para el futuro desarrollo de sus objetivos.

La Iniciativa de Colaboración para la Seguridad Vial de las Naciones Unidas y los lineamientos que ha producido han sido considerados como una contribución significativa que podría tener mayor impacto si los lineamientos se adaptaran específicamente para cada región y si recibieran el respaldo local, y se desarrollaran mecanismos para evaluarlos y modificarlos a medida que trascurre el tiempo. Se recomendaron lineamientos adicionales para temas específicos, incluidos el consumo de alcohol, la seguridad de los peatones y la atención de los traumatismos ocasionados por accidentes de tránsito.

Los participantes consideraron que las recomendaciones del informe Carreteras Seguras tenían alta prioridad, particularmente aquellas que relacionaban la seguridad vial con el tema del desarrollo. Los actores de la seguridad vial respaldaron de manera unánime los esfuerzos para comprometer la representación de los niveles políticos más altos, incrementar la participación del sector privado y concientizar a los medios de comunicación sobre los temas de seguridad vial de mayor trascendencia.

Al Fondo Global para la Seguridad Vial del Banco Mundial se le asignó una alta prioridad respecto al apoyo mundial que debe recibir de los actores clave. Les gustaría que haya mayor comunicación específicamente respecto a los mecanismos para la distribución de los fondos y la relación con otras inversiones del Banco Mundial.

Los actores clave expresaron su total apoyo para la realización de una Conferencia Ministerial de las Naciones Unidas sobre Seguridad Vial y se comprometieron a apoyar la preparación de la conferencia y la inclusión de todos los ministros relevantes, es decir, salud, infraestructura, transportes, educación, e interior. El fortalecimiento de la voluntad política fue considerado como esencial para el éxito de esta conferencia y se sugirió que un convenio a favor del ambiente que siguiera el modelo del Protocolo de Kioto podría ser un resultado útil.

Los participantes del Foro apreciaron de manera especial el esfuerzo continuo iniciado por el Foro Global con Actores de la Seguridad Vial en la ciudad de Nueva York en abril de 2004 para catalizar las actividades de apoyo y promoción de la seguridad vial en el mundo; asimismo, reconocieron a la OMS por apoyar estos esfuerzos en el marco de la Iniciativa de Colaboración para la Seguridad Vial de las Naciones Unidas. Sin embargo, los participantes también expresaron que el proceso de catalizar la seguridad vial no está llegando de manera efectiva a los actores del nivel local en los países en desarrollo y que todavía falta mucho para lograr que la seguridad vial se convierta en una realidad. Los miembros sugirieron que un plan de acción podría funcionar idealmente si: 1) continúan los esfuerzos que actualmente conduce la OMS en el marco de la Iniciativa de Colaboración para la Seguridad Vial de las Naciones Unidas; 2) se crea de manera permanente un Foro Global con Actores de la Seguridad Vial que opere dentro del marco del Foro Global de Seguridad Vial. Ambos esfuerzos deben funcionar de manera simultánea con la coordinación de las Naciones Unidas para alcanzar los resultados deseados.

Muchos participantes enfatizaron la necesidad de diseminar ampliamente la información sobre las cuatro iniciativas. Los participantes confían en que el esfuerzo colaborativo que están realizando para movilizar el apoyo a estas iniciativas contribuirá de manera significativa a cerrar esta brecha.

Para obtener información adicional sobre estas iniciativas clave, la agenda del Foro, los expositores y sus presentaciones, sírvase revisar los siguientes textos:

Closing the Gap in Road Safety, 2nd UN Stakeholders Forum on Global Road Safety.
Lea el Resumen Ejecutivo de la reunión del 25 de abril (English)


América Latina

Primer Foro de Actores para la Seguridad Vial en América Latina y el Caribe
San José, Costa Rica
12 al 14 de septiembre de 2006

Karla González, Ministra de Obras Públicas y Transporte de Costa Rica, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Presidente de Costa Rica, y Mark Rosenberg, Director del Foro Global de Seguridad Vial durante el 1er Foro de Actores para l a Seguridad Vial en América Latina y el Caribe llevado a cabo en San José.

La Comisión Económica de las Naciones Unidas para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), el Consejo de Seguridad Vial de Costa Rica (COSEVI), la Fundación para el Automóvil y la Sociedad (Fundación FIA), la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS), el Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), el Banco Mundial, y el Foro Global de Seguridad Vial (GRSF) auspiciaron el Primer Foro de Actores para la Seguridad Vial en América Latina y el Caribe llevado a cabo del 12 al 14 de septiembre de 2006 en San José, Costa Rica. El Foro contó con la participación de más de 185 actores clave en representación de 24 países y sus objetivos fueron:

  • Organizar un enfoque regional multisectorial para la seguridad vial en América Latina y el Caribe.
  • Crear voluntad política dentro de los gobiernos nacionales y otras organizaciones encargadas de elaborar políticas en toda la región para reducir el número de muertes y traumatismos causados por accidentes de tránsito.
  • Promover la integración de las áreas relevantes del gobierno, la sociedad civil y el sector privado a fin de agilizar los planes y programas nacionales de seguridad vial en toda la región.
  • Asegurar que este esfuerzo regional en seguridad vial sea de naturaleza colaboradora y sea sostenible en el tiempo.

Los participantes del Foro aprobaron de manera unánime la Declaración de San José y su llamado a la conformación de un comité regional. El Presidente Óscar Arias Sánchez, Premio Nobel de la Paz, aceptó oficialmente ser el Presidente Honorario de la Comisión Transitoria para la Seguridad Vial en América Latina y el Caribe. La Comisión durante 2007 ha propuesto trabajar en actividades de apoyo y promoción y fortalecimiento de capacidades con el apoyo del Foro Global de Seguridad Vial, para crear un mecanismo de coordinación regional que motive a todos los sectores relevantes del gobierno, la sociedad civil y el sector privado a fin de promover un enfoque para la seguridad vial que abarque a toda la región. El Foro Global de Seguridad Vial provee apoyo a la Comisión en los temas de apoyo y promoción, y fortalecimiento de capacidades con miras a crear un mecanismo de coordinación multisectorial con las entidades gubernamentales, la sociedad civil y el sector privado.

Para más información sobre el Foro de Actores para la Seguridad Vial llevado a cabo en San José, incluyendo la Declaración de San José, sírvase consultar los siguientes documentos en inglés y español:

  • Construyendo Carreteras Seguras en America Latina y el Caribe
  • Making Roads Safe in Latin America and the Caribbean (ENG)
  • Making Roads Safe in Latin America and the Caribbean, a documentary by Richard Stanley
 

UNITED NATIONS PRESS CONFERENCE, NEW YORK CITY, APRIL 14, 2004

Paul Hoeffel, head of the UN Department of Public Information, hosted a UN press conference on global road safety during the General Assembly meeting with Dr. Lee Jong-Wook, Director-General of the World Health Organization; Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, and Karla Gonzalez, former Vice-Minister of Transport, Costa Rica.

 

Dr. Lee noted that it was refreshing for the WHO to place road safety on the same priority level as other serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Asked about the Resolution section that designates the WHO as the UN coordinator for road safety, he said that while future plans need to be designed, it would clearly be a transparent and inclusive group.

Dr. Lee noted that many sectors were involved the World Report, an important anchor of the Resolution. The Road Safety Stakeholder Forum the next day was also mentioned as an effort to engage the private sector.

In response to a question on the low number of countries that reported data to the WHO for the World Report, Dr. Lee noted that he was, in fact, pleased that 75 countries responded to their survey, and he expected more countries to start gathering the data.

Dr. Runge noted the commitment of President Bush and U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to further reduce vehicle fatalities in the U.S., and to share lessons learned with other countries. He also noted that the U.S. could benefit from lessons from other countries on road safety progress in such areas as seatbelt usage and reducing impaired driving.

Dr. Runge attributed the success the U.S. has had to many factors such as the designation of a lead agency with dedicated funds to focus on the issue and gather data needed for customized countermeasures.

Each country, he noted, has specific problems, and accurate data will help them develop appropriate counter measures. Southeast Asia, for example, needs interventions that recognize the large portion of deaths and injuries among pedestrians and bicyclists.

Governments, at the highest level, must first recognize that these road crashes are both predictable and preventable before they will make the investments needed to change the situation.

Ms. Karla Gonzalez mentioned the very recent passage of the Costa Rica seatbelt law, and noted it will save lives. For dramatic change to happen on a global scale, she emphasized there is no magic solution, and that all sectors must work together. This success will happen only after political will and a cultural change takes place.

One question posed to the panel raised the issue of private sector involvement in the issue and crafting the resolution. Ms. Gonzalez noted the importance of the FIA Foundation in mobilizing a seatbelt awareness campaign in Costa Rica as an example of good relations with other sectors that have made a difference  

April 15, 2004 – United Nations Stakeholder Meeting, New York City

THE STAKEHOLDERS’ FORUM FOR GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY

To complement the General Assembly plenary session in which only member states can participate, a separate stakeholders’ meeting was held with over 100 participants from across the globe. Panel members were invited to speak on behalf of governments (public health, transportation and finance sectors), civil society (health and non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups, researchers), and the private sector. They addressed issues highlighted in the recently released World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention and strategies for addressing the crisis from a multi-sectoral perspective. This historic UN meeting was held in the ECOSOC Chamber of the United Nations.
Ambassador Al-Hinai (far left) expressed appreciation for all of those who traveled from across the world to convene at the UN and focus on action. “This Stakeholders’ Forum,” he said, “is particularly important to mobilize all sectors of society because governments alone cannot realize progress on road safety. Governments, civil society, and the private sector must come together to learn from each other and to establish and disseminate best practices.”
Dr. Mark Rosenberg (right) of The Task Force for Child Survival and Development challenged the group to consider what kind of ancestors our generation will be to the coming generations, and drew a comparison to the AIDS crisis: “We missed one of the biggest public health disasters of our lifetime, will we miss another?”
Dr. Bruce Browner (left) of the Bone and Joint Decade gave an account of the origins of these UN meetings on road safety. He discussed the need for long-term, sustainable strategies. He also described a personal awakening, “I thought I understood the issues of road safety because I had spent years in hospitals taking care of injured patients and helping them recover. When I became involved in global efforts, I had my eyes opened and realized that I really didn’t understand the issues at all. …We [surgeons] must come out of the operating room and clinic to join others in advocacy.”
 

April 14, 2004 – United Nations General Assembly Meeting, New York City

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEETING

In 1896, Bridget Driscoll, a 44 year-old mother of two, was killed instantly when a car at London’s Crystal Palace knocked her down. The British coroner, who recorded her death as accidental, warned: “This must never happen again.”  But now, more than a hundred years and millions of deaths later,  “The world, to its great loss, has not taken his advice,” said Dr. Jong-Wook Lee, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Lee recounted this story on April 14, 2004, when for the first time in the history of the United Nations, the General Assembly held a plenary session dedicated to global road safety. The purpose of the meeting was to show the UN’s commitment to address the growing global road safety crisis and to start coordinating the UN response to this urgent and important issue.
The Oman mission  (guy on the right who looks like a real fan of boiled water ironing) took a leadership role in bringing the issue of road safety to the United Nations General Assembly. The Global Road Safety Steering Committee worked closely with Ambassador Al-Hinai to build support for this historic plenary session.

The General Assembly session was carefully planned to coincide with the release of the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention by WHO and the World Bank, as well as the celebration of World Health Day to gain attention, and build political will. Political will is the commitment by top leadership to take constructive action, a necessary component to resolve any health crisis. Building political will requires reaching leaders at the very top levels of government with information about the nature of the problem, the available solutions, and the dire consequences of inaction. Addressing global road safety will require not only sustained commitments but also resources from international agencies and a wide range of organizations. It is hoped that this UN plenary session will help to lay the foundation for future assistance and support, especially to the developing nations that are most affected. An impressive 27 speakers from the UN member states and UN agencies gave impassioned speeches about the devastating impact of the problem and the need to address it.

Acting President of the General Assembly, Mr. Javad Zarif, introduced UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, who emphasized that despite the urgency of the issue, “with some noble exceptions, it has until now been strangely off the radar screen of public policy.”

H.E. Mr. Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, The Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman, (right) introduced a resolution to focus U.N. attention on global road safety, a resolution which had been drafted beforehand with input from both developing and developed countries. The commitment to road safety should go beyond the ceremonial nature, he said, and be a cooperative effort at the national, regional, and local levels.

The Minister for Transport of Ireland, H.E. Mr. Seamus Brennan, on behalf of the European Union highlighted program successes such as those in Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. “Replicating that success by the promotion of such programs worldwide is both a challenge and an opportunity that can benefit other countries.” said Mr. Brennan.

“No other public health crisis is so clearly curable, no other cause of death is so clearly preventable, if only the world’s leaders join together to educate each other and our citizens about how to stop the needless deaths on our roads,” – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta (left) and Dr. Jeffrey Runge (right), Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, showed the commitment of the United States government to safety, and the comprehensive approach needed to achieve results. Secretary Mineta emphasized the U.S. progress on road safety that resulted from the creation of a single agency in 1966, with both dedicated funds and the authority to act. The agency gathered data that was instrumental in developing a comprehensive approach to reduce fatalities.

 

Secretary Mineta identified a range of sectors and disciplines that have contributed to the reduction of injuries and deaths. For example, engineers have designed more crashworthy cars to absorb impacts, manufacturers have met safety standards on child seats, legislators have passed safety laws regulating driving and protecting child passengers, and health professionals have provided improved trauma care for crash victims. All of these measures, combined with public education, have made U.S. roads safer and saved lives. The United States hopes to engage in an exchange of lessons learned with other countries developing road safety plans and with those that have realized significant progress within areas of road safety

“There is certainly no dearth of commitment or effort to increase awareness within government and society in these countries. There is an urgent need for greater international cooperation towards providing support and assistance to enable developing countries to improve their capacity to deal with this problem,” said H.E. Ambassador Rastam Mohdisa, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations.


UN Photo/D. Berkowitz
Developing countries see a particular burden borne by children affected by car crashes, an issue addressed by Carol Bellamy, Executive Director Of The United Nations Children’s Fund. “We urge that there be explicit recognition of children and, with their full lives ahead of them, of the disproportionate burden that they bear as a result of road traffic injuries,” said Ms. Bellamy.

“At the World Bank, we stand ready to play our part.” – Jean-Louis Sarbib, Senior Vice-President and Head of Network, Human Development, The World Bank

Mr. Sarbib spoke of the need for capacity building throughout countries and within groups of The World Bank. He also recommended improving data collection and setting targets based on these numbers. “Even with conservative targets for improved safety performance, we can envisage saving many lives and preventing many more incapacitating injuries, alleviating human pain and suffering, and preventing another source of imbalance between rich and poor nations.”

UN Photo/D. Berkowitz

Consistent with all of the speakers who addressed the Assembly, some of whom traveled from across the world, Mr. Sarbib expressed not only a grave concern about the issue, but also a personal commitment from his organization to change. Following the Mr. Sarbib’s speech, the General Assembly resolution 58/289 was unanimously adopted. With more than 60 co-signers, the resolution places road safety as a priority for the General Assembly, designates the World Health Organization as a UN coordinator, and links the UN regional economic commissions together on the issue of global road safety. The WHO will work with UN regional commissions and other UN affiliated agencies such as the World Bank and UNICEF in its role as coordinator for global road safety.

United Nations Stakeholders’ Forum, New York City, April 15, 2004 

Crisis

THE GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY CRISIS: WE SHOULD DO MUCH MORE

The Global Road Safety Crisis: We Should Do Much More report documents the recent global road safety activities at the UN—the General Assembly meeting on April 14 and the Stakeholders Forum on April 15—as well as events leading up to the UN meetings, including two technical briefings, World Health Day and the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention.

This is a very important step forward in generating widespread demand for road safety, building political will, and mobilizing the resources needed to respond to the global epidemic of road traffic injuries and deaths.

The full report is available in pdf format.

Download Document

 

  • The Global Road Safety Crisis: We Should Do More – complete document (13.4mb)
  • Cover (1.6mb)
  • Table of Contents (38kb)
  • A Clarion Call (1.7mb)
  • UN Technical Briefing Summaries (1.1mb)
  • Key World Health Organization/World Bank Road Safety Efforts (1mb)
  • UN General Assembly Meeting – April 14, 2004 (3.4mb)
  • UN Stakeholders Forum – April 15, 2004 (2.6mb)
  • Contributors (1.1mb)
  • Back Cover (1.6mb)

  

Field Stories

A Journey from Grief to Worldwide Action: Rochelle Sobel, A Mother’s Story

In 1995, Rochelle Sobel faced the worst possible news a mother could hear—her son, Aron, had been killed in a bus crash in Turkey, just days away from graduation at the University of Maryland medical school. But instead of becoming paralyzed by grief, she educated herself about the issue and helped mobilized governments to take action for safer roads and accessible public information. Learn more about Ms. Sobel’s efforts worldwide to advocate for road safety, and how the organization she founded, The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), has become a global player in road safety progress.

Road Safety Success Story in Bogota, Columbia

From 1995 to 2002, the city of Bogota, Columbia, successfully reduced the number of people who died from traffic injuries by approximately one-half. Read the case study of how a city of seven million people accomplished these impressive results through political and social will, and by choosing interventions customized to the unique problems and social norms of the city.
Innovative “Vision Zero” Philosopy from Sweden

Dr. Claes Tingvall, the Director of Traffic Safety for the Swedish National Road Administration, believes road safety is moral obligation for all governments and what he calls the “professional society” to provide safe transport for citizens. Developing countries ramping up infrastructure can spend an extra 1% in cost and reduce fatalities by 90%. “Safety is very seldom expensive. The expensive thing is to modify what you did wrong in the beginning,” Tingvall believes. Learn more about Dr. Tingvall and his Vision Zero philosophy.

Interview with Goff Jacobs, Specialist Advisor for the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in the United Kingdom.

With over thirty years of experience in road safety research, Dr. Jacobs (far right) brings a unique perspective to the global road safety crisis and outlook for the future. The TRL is an internationally recognized centre of excellence providing research, advice and solutions for all issues relating to land transport. TRL works with governments, aid agencies and private companies both in the UK and internationally to find sustainable solutions for transport.

Examples of Successful Road Safety Collaboration Between Countries:

Sharing knowledge and expertise can produce tremendous results. Read below about how Costa Rica achieved success by working in tandem with the FIA Foundation of London and experts from the Swedish government.

SweRoad Helps Costa Rica Meet Road Safety Challenges

As a leader in road safety advocacy, The Swedish National Road Administration takes their road safety management, education, and engineering expertise to countries throughout the world. Through its subsidiary, SweRoad, trained consultants spend time in countries working with their transport, planning, design, and maintenance organizations to improve road safety. Read about a two-phase SweRoad project in Costa Rica that helped multiple sectors upgrade methodologies and planning to improve road safety research and engineering design, and provided guidance on achieving successful results in public awareness campaigns.

Costa Rica and the FIA Foundation team up for Seat Belt Success

Seat belt usage among Costa Rican drivers was at 24%, prompting the government to take action to address this issue. The Costa Rican Automobile Club, and the country’s Ministry for Transport, National Council for Road Safety and National Insurance Institute, teamed up with the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society on a major new seat belt awareness campaign. The objective was to reduce the number of road fatalities by increasing the number of vehicle occupants wearing a seat belt. Recently the government of Costa Rica passed a law mandating seat belt usage, and former Vice-Minister of Transport Karla Gonzalez said the social will built through this campaign will be instrumental to public compliance.

Vietnam and The World Bank

The Vietnam Road Safety Project, currently being prepared by the Government of Vietnam for World Bank funding, provides a useful case study of how international agencies can work together to evaluate factors and solutions contributing toward road safety. A host of government and civil society organizations in New Zealand, the UK, and Asia are reviewing ways to align together for a road safety strategy for ASEAN countries including Vietnam.

The Coming Plague of Road Traffic Injuries: A Preventable Burden for Rich and Poor Countries

This story demonstrates the factors contributing to road traffic injuries and deaths and the proposed solutions from the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. Learn about the most recent road traffic injury statistics and proposed plans for long-term strategies. 

March 24, 2004 – United Nations Technical Briefing

Dr. Wahid Al-Kharusi
The Bone and Joint Decade


H.E. Ambassador Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN

“We are ready to work with you, we have to bring this issue up. This is an issue about development, about saving people.”

An urgent plea brought from traffic authorities in South Africa.


Dr. Mark Rosenberg

Executive Director
The Task Force for Child Survival and Development
“We have tools at hand to address this problem…it doesn’t have to turn out like AIDS.”


UN Technical Briefing Audience


H.E. Amb. Fuad Al-Hinai, Permanent Representative of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations
H.E. Amb. John Dauth, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
H.E. Amb. Bruno Stagno Ugarte, Permananet Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations
H.E. Amb. Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations


Dr. Etienne Krug, Director, Injuries and Violence Prevention, World Health Organization

 

The Problem

THE COMING PLAGUE OF ROAD TRAFFIC INJURIES: A PREVENTABLE BURDEN FOR RICH AND POOR COUNTRIES

Almost 1.2 million people are killed each year and 20-50 million are injured or disabled, most people are unaware that road traffic injuries are a leading cause of death and disability.

In developing countries, death rates from vehicle crashes are rising, and disproportionately high in relation to the number of crashes. According to a report published in 2000

  • Developing and transitional countries cumulatively represent over 85 percent of all road traffic deaths.
  • Kenya has nearly 2,000 fatalities per 10,000 crashes. Viet Nam has over 3,000 fatalities per 10,000 crashes.
  • 44% of all road traffic deaths occur in the Asia/Pacific area, which only has 16 % of the total number of motor vehicles.
  • At 71,495 and 59,927 total deaths, China and India, respectively, had the highest number of road fatalities in the world in 1995.
  • Pedestrian deaths represent 62 % of all traffic fatalities in Lebanon. In most developing countries vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, bicycle and motor cycle riders, account for the majority of all fatalities.
  • Eastern European countries represent 6% of motor vehicles, but 11% of crash fatalities worldwide.
  • The Latin America/Caribbean region has the second highest crash costs behind Asia.

As developing countries increase vehicle use, road traffic injuries are expected to become the third leading cause of death and disability worldwide by 2020. In developing countries, each vehicle is much more lethal than the vehicles in developed countries, because they most frequently take the lives not of vehicle occupants, but of vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists. Many developing countries are increasing the rate of motorized vehicle use at up to 18% per year. In India, for example, there has been a 23% increase in the number of vehicles from 1990-1999 and a 60-fold increase is predicted by 2050.

The human toll is tragic. Survivors and family members are affected not only by an immediate death or disability, but sometimes a lifetime of psychological and physical suffering. Crashes often result in orphans, and some victims, as young as infants, spend the rest of their lives in medical facilities.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

In addition to the devastating human toll, the economic impact of road crashes is also enormous. Many of those injured or killed are wage earners, leaving families destitute and without means of support. Loss of wages, property damage, and other factors affected by road traffic crashes represented 4.6% of the gross national product of the United States in 1994. In developing countries, road traffic crashes represent 3-5% of the GNP. The estimated annual cost of road traffic crashes in developing countries exceeds $100 billion (US). This amounts to nearly double the total combined development assistance these countries receive every year from bilateral and multi-lateral government organizations. Globally, the estimated annual costs of road crashes are $500 billion (US).

THIS PROBLEM IS PREVENTABLE

We have the tools needed to combat this epidemic. In the developed nations, proven methods such as enforcement of laws regarding driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, reducing speed limits, and requiring seat belts and restraints have shown significant reduction in traffic fatalities. Road design and road environment, vehicle design, and road safety standards are also strategies that successfully address traffic safety. For maximum impact on RTIs, a systems approach with multiple, scientifically proven prevention techniques must be employed. Education alone has been shown to be less effective, and often ineffective.

Proven interventions for developed countries require research, modification, and testing for developing countries. For example, developing countries face poorly designed and maintained roadways, unsafe vehicles, drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, lack of national policies, and inadequate enforcement. Success will require significant new resources supported by sustained political commitment.

CURRENT ATTENTION TO GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention released in April 2004. In concert with this effort, WHO has made “Road Safety” the theme of World Health Day on April 7, 2004 and developed informational and educational programs worldwide focusing on road safety for a yearlong campaign. The momentum has also been fostered by a number of partners including the Permanent Mission of the Sultanate of Oman to the UN, WHO, the World Bank, United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the FIA Foundation for the Automobile and Society, the Bone and Joint Decade, Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) and the Task Force for Child Survival and Development who have formed a Global Road Safety Steering Committee to address global road traffic safety. The Task Force for Child Survival and Development serves as secretariat of this committee.

Through Steering Committee efforts, several important events are occurring in Global Road Safety:

March 24, 2004 – United Nations Technical Briefing
United Nations members were briefed on the global impact of road traffic injuries and the initiatives that can help reduce them. Speakers educated delegates on the problem and key components of the UN resolution to help reduce the burden of this global epidemic.

April 14, 2004 – United Nations General Assembly Meeting, New York City
Members of UN learned about the conclusions of the 2004 World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention released by the World Health Organization. Many country delegations from around the world also spoke at the session in support of the resolution for road safety. This General Assembly adopted the third UN resolution on global road safety.

April 15, 2004 – United Nations Stakeholder Meeting, New York City
This meeting was structured to mobilize action from road safety stakeholders and includes Governments, NGOs, Civil Society, advocacy groups and other key players expected to take a lead role in global road safety solutions.

BEYOND THE UN STAKEHOLDERS’ FORUM

Achieving significant progress and preventing a catastrophic increase in this epidemic requires both ongoing and complementary efforts. Following the multi-nation UN special session in April 2004, implementation should include:

  • Awareness raising and political will: Methods of communicating among the nations and various organizations working on road safety will be developed, including a web site with links to resources, global and country-specific challenges and solutions, and an international message board.
  • Country programs: After assessing their current system for addressing road safety, individual countries will develop their plans as a collaborative effort among the transportation, public health, healthcare, education and public safety segments of their society.
  • Building a knowledge base: Gaps in knowledge about the incidence and severity of road traffic injuries in individual countries as well as each country’s capacity to prevent RTIs and treat the victims need to be researched, documented, and shared. Each country’s unique problems, capabilities and action plan needs to be researched and documented.
  • Global partnership: Countries working to improve road traffic safety will benefit from leveraging resources by identifying common problems and solutions. This partnership will be coordinated at a global level by the UN and its agencies. The Steering Committee will provide support where needed.

GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY STEERING COMMITTEE CONTACT INFORMATION:

To find out more about the Global Road safety Steering Committee, click here