Governments agree to steps to accelerate progress towards road safety worldwide

The UN General Assembly decided yesterday on a number of steps to accelerate progress towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals linked to road safety.

Among them are acceptance of the offer of the Government of Sweden to host the Third High-Level Global Conference on Road Safety, consensus on 12 global road safety performance targets and establishment of the UN Road Safety Trust Fund. These decisions are reflected in a new UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/72/271 which was tabled by the Government of the Russian Federation and co-sponsored by more than 70 countries.

Following highly successful ministerial conferences in the Russian Federation (2009) and Brazil (2015), the resolution welcomes the Government of Sweden's offer to host the next in the series of conferences in early 2020. Sweden is one of the best performing countries in the world in road safety, and therefore a fitting host for the event which is set to mark achievements across the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. It is anticipated that delegates - including ministers who lead transport, health, education, safety and related traffic law enforcement - will issue a forward looking declaration on the period leading up to 2030, drawing attention to the most urgent measures needed to save lives on the roads. With a view to the future beyond the Decade of Action, the resolution also calls for another high-level meeting at an appropriate time after 2020 to assess further progress.

In the context of the UN General Assembly discussion, Member States also welcomed a set of 12 global road safety performance targets. The targets and associated indicators - aligned with the five pillars of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action: road safety management, safer roads and mobility, safer vehicles, safer road users, and post-crash response - provide a framework for countries to adjust the scale and focus of national and local road safety activities as needed.

In the margins of the discussions, a new UN Road Safety Trust Fund was launched with the objectives of unlocking sustainable sources of domestic road safety financing in low- and middle-income countries. Priority will be given to strengthening the capacity of national and local government agencies and city authorities to develop and implement road safety programmes in line with the five pillars of the Global Plan of the Decade of Action.

The UN General Assembly resolution also describes a number of important global road safety efforts, requesting WHO to continue to develop global status reports on road safety to monitor progress and inviting WHO and the UN regional commissions to facilitate organization of the Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week in 2019. The resolution also welcomes the emphasis of the Habitat III New Urban Agenda on integrating road safety with sustainable mobility and urban design; increasing recognition of the decisive role of parliamentarians in the adoption of comprehensive and effective road safety policies and laws; and participation of Member States and civil society in the observance of the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

However, the resolution also expresses concern that the number of road traffic crashes remains unacceptably high - with some 1.3 million fatalities and as many as 50 million injuries annually - and that they are the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29 years worldwide. At the current rate of progress, the Sustainable Development Goal target 3.6 to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020 will not be met.


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