While road safety advocates from around the world are using the Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week (6-12 May 2019) to highlight the need for ‘more effective leadership for road safety’, the event is off to a low-key start in the UK.
Using the hashtag #SpeakUp for road safety, Global Road Safety Week 2019 is being coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO says that, ‘despite progress’, road traffic deaths continue to rise, with an annual 1.35m fatalities – and road traffic injuries are the leading killer of children and young people aged 5-29 years.
Globally, of all road traffic deaths, pedestrians and cyclists account for 26% and motorcycle riders and passengers account for 28%. The risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries, with rates highest in Africa (26.6 per 100,000 population) and lowest in Europe (9.3 per 100,000 population).
According to WHO, where progress has been made it is because of ‘strong leadership around legislation’ on key risks such as speeding, drinking and driving, failing to use seat-belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints.
Other interventions cited by WHO as being effective include: safer ‘sidewalks’ and dedicated lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists; improved vehicle standards including electronic stability control and advanced braking; and enhanced post-crash care.
Launching Global Road Safety Week 2019, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said: “WHO’s vision is a world free from road traffic deaths and injuries – a world in which all people benefit from universal health coverage, including trauma care, rehabilitation and psychological support for road traffic victims.”
Dr Etienne Krug, WHO director, added: “Road traffic deaths and injuries are an unacceptable price to pay for mobility.
“There is no excuse for inaction. This is a problem with proven solutions.
“Governments and their partners must demonstrate leadership and accelerate action to save lives by implementing what works.”
Who says there are ‘hundreds of events’ planned for Global Road Safety Week 2019, including:
- Assessing journeys and generating concrete demands from policy-makers in more than 50 countries from Brazil to Mongolia, and Nigeria to Pakistan – for example, calls for upgrading pedestrian crossings in Trinidad and Tobago; reducing speed limits in Slovenia; increasing the use of seat-belts in Kazakhstan and child restraints in Chile.
- Advocating for safe roads for children by installing speed limit signs around schools in Argentina, Senegal and Tunisia; promoting motorcycle helmets for children in Malaysia; and training school bus attendants in Nepal.
To ‘demonstrate its leadership in road safety’, WHO has developed a Road Safety and Vehicle Management Policy, designed to ensure that WHO vehicles are operated safely in order to reduce the risk of road traffic crashes.
The policy addresses issues as the behaviour of WHO drivers on the roads, ensuring that they avoid speeding and drinking and driving and wear seatbelts.
The policy introduces driver training, including first aid training, and standardisation of the road traffic crash reporting system.
Here in the UK, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, patron of Roadsafe, has published a short video in which he references the importance of better road and vehicle design, the work of the FIA Foundation, Global NCAP and his own Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards.
During the week, RoadSafe is also hosting high-level business seminar as part of the Driving for Better Business campaign and we are expecting an announcement about the launch of a Commonwealth road safety initiative.