UN Urges Motorists Worldwide To Reduce Speeds
"Every 24 seconds, someone is killed in a road traffic accident somewhere in the world"
Every 24 seconds, someone is killed in a road traffic accident somewhere in the world. It's one too many. And vehicle speed is at the heart of the road traffic injury problem that most countries face. The UN addressed this issue during its sixth Global Road Safety Week (May 17-23), with the goal of raising awareness.
Every year, over 1.35 million people are killed and 50 million are injured on the world's roads. One-quarter of those killed or injured are pedestrians or cyclists, and the majority of those affected are between the ages of 5 and 29.
India, which accounts for over 150,000 road crash fatalities – 11% of the global total – and nearly 500,000 injuries per year, ranks first among developing countries in this regard.
Road traffic accidents are estimated to cost countries about 3% of their GDP, with economic losses in low- and middle-income countries amounting to 5% of GDP. Every day, 3,000 children and young people are killed or seriously injured throughout the world. A child hit by a car at 30kph may survive, but if hit at 80kph, he or she will almost certainly die. Speed is lethal.
The role of speed in traffic accidents
Speed is a factor in one-third of all traffic accidents, and even a 5% reduction in average vehicle speed can result in a 30% reduction in fatal traffic accidents. The lower the vehicle's speed, the lower the risk of pedestrian death and injury. According to experts, every 1kph increase in speed results in a 4-5% increase in fatal crashes. A maximum speed limit of 30kph saves lives, particularly those of pedestrians, cyclists, children, and young people, and has environmental and other benefits.
According to the United Nations, excessive and inappropriate speed is one of the leading causes of road traffic deaths and injuries, accounting for roughly one-third of fatalities in high-income countries and up to one-half in low- and middle-income countries. Safe speeds, along with safe roads and roadsides, safe vehicles, and safe road users, are among the four main elements of the ‘safe systems approach to road safety.
Building or modifying roads to include traffic-calming features such as roundabouts and speed bumps; establishing speed limits to the function of each road; enforcing speed limits; installing in-vehicle technologies such as intelligent speed assistance; and raising awareness about the dangers of speeding through campaigns are all approaches to managing speed. Countries that have implemented the safe systems approach – including interventions to ensure safer speeds – have made the most progress in reducing road fatalities.
The message of the United Nations from the sixth Global Road Safety Week
Even as the sixth UNGRSW comes to a close today, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world have used the week to make long-term commitments to 30kph limits at the community, city, regional, and national levels. Most countries are at various stages of their own journey toward safe roads, and policy change always takes more than a week. Any shift in attitudes, policies, and implementation will be gradual.
According to the UN statement, "livable streets are more important than ever as we respond to COVID-19." Urgent for the Global Goals and our climate, as a key to unlocking a virtuous cycle of zero-carbon active travel, transitioning away from car dependence, enabling thriving public transportation, cleaner air, and lower CO2 emissions.”
“The 2020 Stockholm Declaration, adopted by governments around the world, calls for a focus on liveable streets and, based on available evidence, a maximum road travel speed of 30km/h where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix. To achieve the Global Goals, commitment to this approach must be at the forefront of the new Decade of Action for Road Safety.”
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