Saving lives on the road

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Every year, about 1.27 million people are killed in road crashes and more than 20 million people are seriously injured worldwide. On Global Road Safety Week, May 8-17, the United General Assembly addresses a key risk factor for road traffic deaths and injuries: Speed. Speed contributes to around one-third of all fatal road traffic crashes in high-income countries, and up to half in low- and middle-income countries.

Road accidents are the lead cause of death among 15- to 25-year-olds and more than 90% of deaths occur in in low- and middle-income countries. As more people are able to buy cars and motorcycles in the developing world, the rate of road accidents is increasing and the resulting deaths, physical disabilities, and psychological distress are creating a tremendous negative economic impact on victims, their families, and society in general.

The fourth UN Global Road Safety Week seeks to increase understanding of the dangers of speed and generate action on measures to address speed, thereby saving lives on the roads. It is a unique opportunity to contribute to the achievement of the road safety-related Sustainable Development Goal targets 3.6 and 11.2, to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% by 2020. During this week, multiple actions will be launched through the ongoing campaign: Save Lives – #SlowDown.

Countries successfully reducing road traffic deaths have done so by prioritizing safety when managing speed. Among the proven strategies to address speed include:

  • Building or modifying roads to include features that calm traffic
  • Establishing speed limits to the function of each road
  • Enforcing speed limits
  • Installing in-vehicle technologies
  • Raising awareness about the dangers of speeding

Handicap International and Road Safety

Handicap International is currently one of only a few international NGOs fighting to put road safety on the development agenda and advocating for safety measures to protect vulnerable road users. The organization currently implements road safety programs designed to reduce the number of accidents and assist victims in Benin, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Laos, and Vietnam. Staff members collect and analyze data on road crashes; provide support and training to local NGOs, transportation specialists, police, and teachers; run awareness campaigns; and provide first aid at the scene of crashes. Learn more.

 


The #SlowDown campaign operates on the principles of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. On May 11, 2011, dozens of countries around the world kicked off the first global Decade of Action. From New Zealand to Mexico and the Russian Federation to South Africa, governments committed to taking new steps to save lives on their roads. The Decade of Action seeks to prevent road traffic deaths and injuries which experts project will take the lives of 1.9 million people annually by 2020. 

The Global Plan for the Decade of Action outlines steps towards improving the safety of roads and vehicles; enhancing emergency services; and building up road safety management generally. It also calls for increased legislation and enforcement on speeding.