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UN launches road safety trust fund

During the General Assembly debate on road safety, Mohammed said traffic accidents are the number one cause of death of young people and are responsible for keeping millions of people in poverty each year. "Road traffic deaths and injuries have become a serious and urgent global concern. Around 1.3 million drivers, passengers and pedestrians die each year, and up to 50 million are injured on the world's roads," she said. 

"Just in the past week, we have been reminded of the deeply distressing personal realities behind such statistics. Tragic road accidents in Canada and India, to name but two, have left families and communities utterly distraught. I would like to convey my sincere condolences to all affected by these events," she said.

The United Nations took a major step to address the tragedy of road accidents by launching the UN Road Safety Trust Fund to spur action that could save lives and prevent the loss of opportunity associated with road accidents. Highlighting the opportunities offered by the fund, Mohammed said there is "a chance to save the lives of millions of people around the world, and to prevent injuries, suffering and the loss of opportunity associated with road accidents.

She urged all stakeholders to contribute to the trust fund and to step up their efforts to achieve global road safety targets. According to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Organisation's development arm in the continent, which is also the secretariat for the trust fund, every USD 1,500 contributed to the fund could save one life; prevent 10 serious injuries; and leverage USD 51,000 towards investments in road safety.

"The Road Safety Trust Fund will serve as a catalyst for much-needed progress towards the road safety targets of the Sustainable Development Goals," UNECE head Olga Algayerova said. Dealing specifically with road safety, two Sustainable Development Goals targets aim to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents and to provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems as well as improve road safety for all, respectively.

"(We) are committed to working with all stakeholders to multiply the impact of global action to improve road safety," Algayerova said. Echoing these words, Jean Todt, the President of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile and the UN Special Envoy for Road Safety, also underlined the importance scaling up of resources to achieve global road safety targets. "(The Trust Fund) has the potential to galvanise our global efforts to address the road safety situation, building on the progress made and experience gained over the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020," he said.

The trust fund will support efforts along the five pillars of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, which includes strengthened road safety management capacities; improved safety of road infrastructure and broader transport networks; enhanced safety of vehicles; improved behaviour of road users; and improved post-crash care.

The UN General Assembly also adopted a resolution on road safety, sponsored by Russia, in which it called for a host of measures to prevent road accidents and to minimising the resulting damage. One of the measures, it urged, the adoption policies and measures to implement vehicle safety regulations to ensure that all new motor vehicles meet applicable minimum regulations for the protection of occupants and other road users, with seat belts, airbags and active safety systems fitted as standard equipment.

One feels that the improved behavior of road users will be the most predominant cause of reduction in fatal road accidents. Material infrastructure can be improved; but, improving the behavior of the road users will be a real challenge for those who are concerned with road accidents that claim lakhs of lives of men, women and children year after year.

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