United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon yesterday highlighted the importance of road safety in preventing more than one million people from dying and many more from getting injured each year in traffic accidents.
“This year, the world’s roads have claimed some 1.2 million lives,” Mr. Ban said in his message marking World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. “Added to the fatalities are the more than 50 million people injured each year – many of them now condemned to enduring physical disabilities and psychological trauma for the rest of their days.”
Around 90 per cent of road traffic deaths and injuries occur in low and middle-income countries, and most of the victims are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), in addition to killing close to 1.3 million people every year, traffic accidents also injure or disable as many as 50 million more – and, without urgent action, road traffic injuries will become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.
The Day came about following the adoption of a resolution by the General Assembly in October 2005 calling for governments to mark the third Sunday in November each year as the occasion to give recognition to victims of road traffic crashes and the plight of their relatives who must cope with the emotional and practical consequences of the accidents.
In his message, Mr. Ban noted that governments have taken positive steps to address traffic accidents since more than 100 countries pledged last year to save five million lives by implementing road safety strategies and information campaigns at the launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011-2020.
“Governments are acting,” Mr. Ban said. “Chilean law now requires people travelling on inter-city buses to wear seatbelts. China has criminalized drinking and driving and increased penalties for offenders, and New Zealand has introduced stricter controls on alcohol for younger drivers.”
Countries have also shown commitment to enhance and enforce legislation, the UN chief noted. In Brazil, for example, police are stricter on drinking and driving. In Turkey, seatbelt use has increased from eight to 50 per cent, and in Viet Nam, motorcycle helmet use has tripled from 30 to 90 per cent. Other countries, including Ghana, India, Mozambique and Pakistan, are improving care for people who have suffered road traffic injuries.
“On this World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, let us commit to minimizing road traffic deaths and injuries as part of our quest for an equitable and sustainable future,” the UN chief added.
But earlier in a statement, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the people of Sierra Leone for the peaceful and orderly elections held Saturday, the first to be run entirely by the Government since the end of the West African nation’s brutal civil war 10 years ago.
“The high voter turnout and the remarkable calm displayed by the country’s citizens as they cast their votes are a clear manifestation of their desire for peace, democracy and development,” said Mr. Ban.
“As the country awaits the announcement of final results, the Secretary-General calls on Sierra Leone’s political leaders, parties and their supporters to accept the will of the people and to put their country above any other interests so as not to jeopardize Sierra Leone’s hard-won peace,” the statement added.
Mr. Ban also urged all sides to work together and uphold their commitment to the people of Sierra Leone to bolster stability and unity.
The elections will be the country’s third since the end of its civil war, and the second since the withdrawal of the peacekeeping operation known as the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) in December 2005. That mission was replaced by various other UN offices, most recently the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIPSIL), which focuses on political and development activities.
Culled From: Leadership