Accede to United Nations Road Safety Conventions, Implement Whole-of-Society Action Plans, Secretary-General Tells General Assembly
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on improving road safety, in New York today:
Let me begin by thanking you for coming together to focus on improving road safety — a critical issue among the many challenges facing our world. I also want to acknowledge my Special Envoy, Jean Todt, for his commitment and exemplary leadership.
Road accidents are a silent epidemic on wheels. This gathering is a vital opportunity to drive progress, take concrete actions and realize lasting change.
Every year, 1.3 million people die on roads; 50 million more are seriously injured. Road crashes are the single biggest killer of young people aged between 5 to 29 years old in the world today. Nine out of 10 victims are in middle- and low-income countries. The tragedy of their deaths is made even greater by the simple fact that so many are entirely preventable.
Road fatalities are closely linked to poor infrastructure, unplanned urbanization, lax social protection and health-care systems, limited road safety literacy and persistent inequalities both within and between countries.
At the same time, unsafe roads are a key obstacle to development. Traffic accidents can push entire families into poverty through either the loss of a breadwinner or the costs associated with lost income and prolonged medical care. And developing countries lose between 2 and 5 per cent of gross domestic product every year because of them.
Safer roads promote sustainable development. Our goals are clear: cut road traffic deaths and injuries by half by 2030 and promote sustainable mobility with safety at its core.
I count on you to raise attention and awareness and foster more inclusive collaboration and closer coordination across sectors and stakeholders.
We need more ambitious and urgent action to reduce the biggest risks — such as speeding; driving under the influence of alcohol or any psychoactive substance or drug; failure to use seatbelts, helmets and child restraints; unsafe road infrastructure and unsafe vehicles; poor pedestrian safety; and inadequate enforcement of traffic laws.
We need increased financing for sustainable and safe infrastructure and investments in cleaner mobility and greener urban planning — especially in low- and middle-income countries. And we need to adopt a more holistic approach to road safety. This means better integrating road safety in national policies — from education, health and transport to climate mitigation, land-use planning and disaster response.
I encourage all Member States to accede to United Nations road safety conventions and implement whole-of-society action plans, taking a strong prevention approach. I urge all donors to scale up much-needed financial and technical contributions through the United Nations Road Safety Fund.
Every one of us has a role to play in making roads safer for everyone, everywhere. Together, we can save lives, support development and steer our world to safer roads ahead, leaving no one behind.