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UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety visits South-East Asia to advocate for helmets and safe mobility for all

UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety visits South-East Asia to advocate for helmets and safe mobility for all

Helmets and safe mobility

The goal of the mission of the Special Envoy, Mr. Jean Todt, is to advocate for more investment in safe and sustainable mobility in one of the regions most affected in the world by road crashes: South-East Asia. The Special Envoy will meet with Ministers as well as private sector, public sector and NGO stakeholders in Thailand (21-23 Nov.), Viet Nam (23-25 Nov.) and Cambodia (26-29 Nov.) to advocate for the effective implementation of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 with the aim of halving the number of victims on the road by 2030. The Special Envoy will also address governments and relevant partners at high-level events during these dates.

Road crashes are the leading cause of the fatalities and injuries in South-East Asia. With 1.3 million people killed on the road every year worldwide, road crashes rank as the first cause of death in young people aged five to 29, while more than 90% of road fatalities occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Fifty-eight per cent of the global road deaths occur in the Asia-Pacific region. According to The World Health Organization (WHO 2018),Thailand and Viet Nam are the most vulnerable countries in the region with a fatality rate of 32.2 and 26.4 per 100,000 population, respectively, while in the European Union, the fatality rate is 5.4 per 100,000 population. Particular attention should be paid to motorized two-wheelers which represent 40 % of crash fatalities in South Asia (WB 2022). Moreover, Thailand reports the highest rate of motorcycle-related deaths in the world (WHO 2021). It is therefore urgent to implement proven solutions than can save lives such as wearing a certified quality helmet which could reduce the risk of fatality by 42% and injuries by 69% (WB 2022).

If road traffic death figures in the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) region in 2019 showed an 11 per cent decrease from 2016, efforts still need to be made, combining policy, enforcement and education targeting the most vulnerable on the road.


"In addition to the tragic loss of loved ones, road crashes draw the most vulnerable into a vicious cycle of poverty, from medical costs, material damage, loss of the economic capacity and mobilization of resources", highlights the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Mr. Jean Todt.


According to a World Bank report on private investment (WB 2022), road fatalities cost economies $1.7 trillion dollars per year, and from three to five percent of GDP. According to the World Bank (WB 2016), the cost of road crashes represents 8.9% of GDP in Vietnam, while it costs 5.9% of Cambodia’s GDP (WB 2016).  A 2017 study by the World Bank (2017) reports that if Thailand cuts road traffic mortality rates by 50% over a period of 24 years, it could generate additional income equivalent to 22.2% of GDP. This shows us how investing in road safety matters.

The Special Envoy will start his mission in Bangkok to speak at the opening session of International Transport Forum's first-ever Regional High-Level Dialogue for Asia and at the seventh session of the Committee on Transport Committee on Transport organized by the Transport Division of ESCAP, where he will address governments for the endorsement of the Regional Action Programme for Sustainable Transport Development in Asia and the Pacific (2022–2026).

In Phnom Penh, the Special Envoy will meet government officials and participate in the Achievement Dissemination Workshop on an  Eco-Safe Driver Training Program, organized by the non-profit AIP Foundation, supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fϋr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the VF Corporation.

The Special Envoy will end in Hanoi where he will meet high-level Government representatives, stakeholders as well as visit a school and a helmet factory.


Notes to Editors:

The United Nations has invested significantly in tackling the problem of road safety globally. Following the “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020”, the UN General Assembly in August 2020 adopted a resolution on “Improving Road Safety”, that reconfirmed its commitment to halving the number of global traffic deaths and injuries and to providing access to safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all by 2030. In July 2022, the road safety community met in New York City for the first ever High-Level Meeting on Improving Global Road Safety at the United Nations General Assembly, unanimously adopting a text titled: “Political declaration of the high-level meeting on improving global road safety”.

To galvanize intersectoral actions and raise the visibility of road safety, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed in 2015 Jean Todt as his Special Envoy for Road Safety. He was reconfirmed in this role by the new UN Secretary-General, António Guterres in 2017 and in 2021. In 2018, together with 14 UN organizations, the Special Envoy launched the UN Road Safety Fund (UNRSF).

The Special Envoy recently launched a new campaign to raise awareness about road safety #streetsforlife, in collaboration with JC Decaux, launched during the High-level Meeting for Road Safety and to be implemented  in 80 countries by the end of 2024.

UNECE acts as the secretariat for the Special Envoy for Road Safety. UNECE is the custodian of the United Nations road safety legal instruments applicable worldwide, such as the Convention on Road Traffic, the Convention on Road Signs and Signals, and the 1958, 1997 and 1998 Vehicle Regulations Agreements.  UNECE services the ECOSOC Committee of Experts on Transport of Dangerous Goods, as well as the only permanent United Nations intergovernmental forum on road safety (Working Party on Road Traffic Safety) and the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, both in the framework of the Inland Transport Committee, which is the only permanent UN forum specialized in inland modes of transport.

Sources- 2018 WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety

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