Every year 1.25 million people are killed and up to 50 million are injured in road traffic accidents, making it one of the most pressing health emergencies of our time. Every day 500 children lose their lives because of road accidents. It is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 29 and the eighth leading cause of death globally.
Fortunately, practical tools exist to help reduce these fatalities, in the form of the United Nations legal instruments on road safety, hosted by UNECE, which cover all major causes of accidents. When applied and effectively enforced, these conventions and agreements can make a vital contribution to saving lives on the roads.
To this end, UNECE and the Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today in Geneva, on the occasion of the 76th session of the Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety.
Building on longstanding collaboration, the MoU will strengthen cooperation to encourage United Nations Member States to develop, accede to and/or to better implement the United Nations road safety legal instruments. Through the agreement, the two organizations will develop and implement joint initiatives and programmes relating to road safety management capacity-building, as well as the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. In particular, the agreement will support the creation of comprehensive policies concerning two wheeled powered vehicles which are a primary source of transport in low income and developing countries. This includes driver training, licencing, the standards of vehicle operation and helmet laws.
UNECE Executive Secretary Ms Olga Algayerova stated “the UN conventions and legal instruments on road safety provide a blueprint to reduce the numbers of people killed and injured on our roads, which can support much needed progress towards road safety objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To unlock the lifesaving potential of these tools, we must ensure that their provisions are translated into concrete action on the ground. Building capacities for their effective implementation is therefore fundamental, with partnerships such as this playing a key role in improving safety where it counts - on the roads.”
"As the centre of excellence in road safety in South and South-East Asia, the IRTE's College of Traffic Management will support the United Nations in the promotion of the UN road safety conventions through capacity building initiatives, aimed to reduce the burden of road crash injuries and fatalities in these regions, and in turn, contribute to meeting Sustainable Development Goals targets 3.6 and 11.2," said Dr. Rohit Baluja, President of IRTE.
Note to editors
UNECE has a long history of promoting road safety. In 1950, UNECE created a working group focusing on the prevention of road accidents, establishing in 1988 what is now the Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety (WP.1). The primary function of the Global Forum and other related working parties at UNECE is overseeing the United Nations legal instruments aimed at harmonizing international traffic rules. These legal instruments, such as the 1968 Convention on Road Traffic, the 1968 Convention on Road Signs and Signals, and the 1958 and 1998 agreements on technical vehicle regulations, help create a legal framework that addresses the main causes of traffic accidents such as driver behaviour, road infrastructure and vehicle safety. Together, these legal instruments provide a roadmap that allows governments to create safer roads for all.
The Institute for Road Traffic Education (IRTE), based in New Delhi, India, is a research, not-for-profit organization working in the area of traffic management since 1991. Its College of Traffic Management serves as a centre of excellence in road safety. IRTE’s principle objective is to improve traffic management and road safety by exchanging information, sharing good practices, and catalyzing capacity building of government and non-government organizations. IRTE offers extensive training courses aimed at improving road safety, including for police and traffic management as well as enforcement.