Speed kills. A child hit by a car at 30 km/h (20 mph) can survive. Hit at 80 km/h (50 mph), most will die. “Streets for Life” is the slogan chosen for the 6th United Nations Global Road Safety Week (UNGRSW) to be launched this 17 May 2021, calling for 30 km/h (20 mph) speed limits to be the norm for cities, towns and villages worldwide.
The UNGRSW takes place every two years to bring attention to road traffic crashes - a major development challenge that claims the lives of 1.35 million people each year and is the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29.
Hundreds of activities are planned this week (17-23 May) and hosted by government ministries, UN agencies, civil society organizations and private companies. These include:
- UNGRSW’s official virtual launch on 17 May , 14H CEST– registration
- Press conference on COVID-19 and road safety, with WHO’s Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus and global road safety activist, Ms Zoleka Mandela. Livestreamed here: YouTube & Twitter on 17 May 2021, 15:30 CEST
- Signatories to the Streets for Life Open Letter call for a focus on liveable streets and a maximum road travel speed of 30 km/h where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix.
- The UN Road Safety Fund (UNRSF) is also joining the global campaign:
- a social media campaign, sharing voices from the field (UNRSF projects)
- a video message with UNRSF partners and donors advocating for speed management
- UN Info podcast on road safety with the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Road Safety, Mr. Jean Todt
- A social media #SlowDownChallenge to promote walking, cycling or swimming during the week, in coordination with the EU
The UNRSF implementing partners are also take action during that week such as the UNESCWA Regional Workshop on Road Safety in the Arab countries.
The Week will also officially launch the second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030, proclaimed in the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 74/299, with the target to halve road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. A Global Plan of Action on Road Safety, which is currently being finalized by Member States, will steer action for the Decade. The Global Plan calls on all stakeholders to support road safety efforts in low- and middle-income countries, where over 90% of road fatalities occur. It also recognizes the important role of financing instruments such as the UN Road Safety Fund in supporting the most affected countries and communities to implement life-saving road safety measures.
Speed contributes to about 30% of deaths on the road while in some low-and middle-income countries, speed is estimated to be the main contributory factor in about 50% of all road crashes.
“Even with the pandemic significantly reducing the number of cars on the road, the rate of traffic fatalities per miles driven has increased in several countries. High speeds limit drivers’ reaction time and increases the distance it takes to stop a vehicle. Precisely because of the dangers of excessive speed, the UN Road Safety Fund prioritizes speed management in several of its projects from Argentina to the Philippines” , highlights Nneka Henry, Head of the UN Road Safety Fund.
However, solutions exist, recalled Olga Algayerova, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the custodian of the UN conventions on road safety. In her video address for the campaign she stressed the need for designing safer and sustainable streets, assessing and training drivers, establishing speed policies, tracking speed offenses and making the most of technology.
For More information:
UN Global Road Safety Week: https://www.unroadsafetyweek.org/en/home
UN country road safety performance reviews: https://unece.org/road-safety-performance-review
Note to editors
About the UNRSF
Established in 2018, the United Nations Road Safety Fund (UNRSF) aims at substantially reducing death and injuries from road crashes in low and middle-income countries where 93% of the world fatalities occur. Pursuant to the UN General Assembly resolutions 70/260 and 74/299 proclaiming a new Decade of Action for Road Safety, the UNRSF is as an innovative pooled fund gathering so far 16 private and public donors. Anchored in a Global Framework Plan of Action for Road, the Fund has the capacity to leverage and mobilize resources to address critical gaps in national road safety system. It is financing projects with a significant and a sustainable impact on road safety, covering 4 regions, in more than 20 low- and middle-income countries. It is hosted by UNECE.