How the United Nations is Working to Make Roads Safer

Road crashes have reached epidemic levels, according to the Together for Safer Roads’ (TSR) Expert Panel White Paper “Investing in Road Safety: A Global Imperative for the Private Sector.” Every year, 1.2 million people die and 20 to 50 million people are injured in traffic collisions, according to the World Health Organization. That threat doesn’t just apply to drivers and passengers; the WHO has found that around 50 percent of those killed by road crashes are pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists – the most vulnerable road users – and about half of all deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. If this trajectory continues, the WHO predicts that road collisions will be the seventh leading cause of death, globally, by 2030.

The United Nations is determined to change that. In 2010, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating a Decade of Action for Road Safety to study and reduce road traffic injuries and fatalities around the world, and encourage action at the local, state, federal, and global level to help influence safer driving and safer roads.

Upon the launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated the goals for the coming years: “The Decade of Action for Road Safety can help all countries drive along the path to a more secure future,” he wrote for the initiative’s launch. “Today, partners around the world are releasing national or citywide plans for the Decade, hosting policy discussions, and enabling people affected by road crashes to share their stories widely. Now we need to move this campaign into high gear and steer our world to safer roads ahead. Together, we can save millions of lives.”

Today, more than halfway into the Decade of Action, the United Nations has made progress toward its goal, raising awareness across the world about the importance of road safety. Additionally, the WHO has produced a number of publications, including a Global Status Report on Road Safety. And it has inspired governments, NGOs, and businesses to join in the quest for safer roads.

Inspired by the United Nations’ actions, Together for Safer Roads was launched, which included assembling an Expert Panel to make recommendations on the ways that the private sector can help, which were published in “Investing in Road Safety: A Global Imperative for the Private Sector.” The White Paper shows that road collisions cost the global economy USD $518 billion per year, and comes with a price tag of up to 3 percent of a nation’s GDP. Motor vehicle collisions are hurting business, and businesses have the power to step up and make a difference.

Amina J. Mohammed, Former Special Advisor of the United Nations Secretary-General, provided the foreword for the White Paper, in which she praised the private sector for joining in the mission. “At the midpoint in the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety, the time is right for the private sector to join forces with the United Nations, its agencies, non-governmental groups, and governments at national and local levels to help realize our collective vision of a world where roads are safe for all people,” she writes.

Through TSR, member companies are working together to share best practices for businesses and their fleets; communicating with local governments about specific road safety issues and solutions; and sharing data to help advance progress and make roads safer. In doing so, TSR is working in alignment with the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety goal to save the lives of 5 million people and prevent 50 million injuries on the road.

With four years left in the decade, the United Nations is still working toward its goal of making our roads safer. Read “Investing in Road Safety: A Global Imperative for the Private Sector” to learn more.