Every 24 seconds someone is killed in traffic, making safety on the world’s roads a global development challenge for all societies, especially for the most vulnerable, a senior UN official has said, ahead of the first ever Highlevel General Assembly Meeting on Improving Road Safety.
Nneka Henry, who heads the United Nations Road Safety Fund (UNRSF) Secretariat, noted that 500 children die in crashes every day, and that of the older population, women are 17 times more likely to be killed during a car crash than men, even when wearing seatbelts.
Despite these statistics, road safety is not just a challenge for women or for young people. It is “for each and every one of us who walk, ride, cycle or drive on our roads,” Henry told Diedra Sealey, a young diplomat in the President of the General Assembly’s HOPE Fellowship programme.
The interview took place ahead of the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on Improving road safety, organised by Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly, and the WHO.
Coinciding with the meeting is the UN Road Safety Fund pledging conference. The Fund was established in 2018 with a vision to “to build a world where roads are safe for every road user, everywhere.” It specially finances projects in lowand middle- income countries, where some 93 per cent of road deaths and injuries take place.
“I am here in New York to remind all 193 Member States of their commitment to the Fund’s mandate and success,” Henry said.
Those successes include the announcement that as of July 1, all vehicles imported in East Africa need to be below the Euro 4/IV emission standard and no more than eight years old.
The Fund has been working with the Economic Community of West African States’ 15 members, to harmonise vehicle standard resolutions. “This will have major air quality and road safety benefits,” Henry said.
As part of the high-level meeting, UN Member States will adopt a political declaration, to lay out a “vision for the future of mobility as one that promotes health and wellbeing, protects the environment, and benefits all people.”
The interconnected targets are part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that show how road safety is also integrated into the SDGs, from allowing safer access to education, to allowing people access to groceries and reducing carbon emissions.
Halving traffic deaths and injuries by 2030 is a target under the third SDG, on good health and wellbeing.
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