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Decade of Action: Global Road Safety Initiative Kicks Off

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decade of actionWhat is the number one cause of death globally for young people? Road accidents.

This is one of the central facts behind an array of international agencies, organizations, private companies, and governments from across the globe who launched the United Nation’s Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 last Wednesday.

The aim of the Decade of Action program is to reduce the number of highway fatalities and serious injuries sustained on the world’s roads through programs enacted at all levels — global, national, and regional. With a global average of 1.3 million highway-related fatalities and 50 million serious injuries yearly, there is certainly a lot of room for improvement.

Originally proposed by the Make Roads Safe campaign, the effort rapidly gained the backing of the U.N. General Assembly. One hundred governments now co-sponsor this effort.

The action plan presented includes three major foci: creating an increase in helmet and seat belt use, promotion of safer road infrastructure, and the protection of vulnerable road users (e.g.., pedestrians and cyclists).

The Trucker News Service brings us some information from the American Trucking Alliance (ATA) and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA):

‘The core of the U.N.’s program fits neatly with ATA’s own progressive safety agenda,’ [David] Osiecki [ATA senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs] said. ‘Focusing on behaviors we know cause crashes like aggressive or distracted driving, expanding the use of active safety technology and improving the design of trucks are just a part of our safety agenda that can help the U.N. and its partners achieve our shared goal of zero highway fatalities.’

‘CVSA shares the U.N.’s concern that road traffic deaths and injuries have reached epidemic proportions and need to be addressed urgently by all people who use public roads,’ Stephen A. Keppler, CVSA’s executive director, said. ‘CVSA and its partners work tirelessly to prevent large truck and bus-related crashes. And while the commercial vehicle industry has made significant progress, clearly much more can be done to see that not one additional life is put at risk. We appreciate the U.N. and World Health Organization for raising the global awareness of this issue.’

The Decade of Action website lists 10 reasons this subject is in such vital need of attention:

  • Nearly 1.3 million people are killed on the world’s roads each year.
  • Up to 50 million people are injured, and many remain disabled for life.
  • 90% of casualties from road deaths occur in developing countries.
  • Annual road traffic deaths are forecast to rise to 1.9 million people by 2020.
  • Road traffic injuries are the number one cause of death for young people worldwide.
  • By 2015, road traffic injuries will be the leading health burden for children over the age of five years in developing countries.
  • The economic cost to developing countries is at least $100 billion a year.
  • Road traffic injuries place an immense burden on hospitals and health systems generally.
  • Road crashes are preventable.
  • A global Action Plan includes practical measures which, if implemented, could save millions of lives.

Be a part of the solution. As the Decade of Action website reminds us, about 3,500 people a day around the world leave home for the last time because an auto accident takes their life. Helping to create safer roads should be a high priority for all of us.

Image by Decade of Action, used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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