On World Day for Road Traffic Victims, Ban calls for recommitment to road safety

17 November 2014 | Press Releases

New York, 16 November 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a recommitment to make roads safer for all who use them, as countries around the world marked the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims today.

Photo: WHO

Photo: WHO

Calling the Day a “sobering reminder” that crashes are the leading cause of death for people 15 to 29 years old, Mr. Ban said in a message that he is “continually inspired by the potential of youth to transform society.”

“On this World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, let us re-commit to making roads that are safe for all,” he said.

Mr. Ban drew attention to the fact that road traffic crashes also claim many younger victims, with more than 500 children killed each day as they travel to and from school, playgrounds and the homes of family and friends. Millions of other people of all ages are also seriously injured.

“This Day is about compassion and prevention,” Mr. Ban said. “We mourn those who have perished on the roads. We console grieving families and friends. We raise awareness of the economic hardship so often faced by the bereaved.”

In his message, Mr. Ban recalled that last year on the Day, he was in Lithuania, one of many countries seriously addressing the issue of road safety. He said he was deeply moved by a candlelight vigil in Vilnius featuring one flame for each person who had died on the country’s roads since 1990.

“Such tributes are a powerful testimony to the need for action,” he noted.

This year’s theme, Speed Kills, points the way forward, the Secretary-General said.

As such, a number of governments have moved to address the problem of speeding in the context of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, which is being observed through the year 2020, Mr. Ban noted. China, France, Kenya, the Russian Federation and Turkey are among a growing number of countries adopting new laws, enhancing enforcement and redesigning their roads with speed bumps, rumble strips and other steps to slow traffic, he said.

“As we aim to slow traffic, we are accelerating global action against road crashes,” the Secretary-General said.

Working with partners, the UN plans to carry out a number of initiatives, including preparing to convene the Second Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety to be hosted by Brazil in November 2015.

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.