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Preventing road accidents

As road accidents are still responsible for 1.3 million annual deaths and 50 million injuries all over the world, the United Nations met to push for a global plan for road safety during the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 at the General Assembly in New York.

UN General Assembly president Abdulla Shahid, who opened the discussion, said the world needs to address this “unnecessary and tragic burden on families, communities and economies.”

“Road accidents are entirely preventable, and our priority must be exactly that – to implement preventive measures,” Shahid said.

A Global Plan is important, but he warned that “unless it is implemented, it is nothing more than a plan of action.” For implementation by national and local governments to be ensured, it will require two elements: financing and engagement of relevant actors.

Ninety percent of road deaths happen in low and middle income countries. Road traffic crashes are also the leading killer of children and young people worldwide. As things stand, they are set to cause a further estimated 13 million deaths and 500 million injuries in the next decade.

Achieving the targets to reduce road accidents will require increased support to vulnerable countries that will then have to implement the necessary measures to make roads safer. This is especially applicable to countries like the Philippines that is at a stage where government officials and even the public still consider indiscriminate road widening as an improvement.

Our country needs roads that are designed, built, operated and maintained for people instead of vehicles. Changing this mindset will take some time and effort but it would be worth it if it can result in safer roads without sacrificing mobility. Hopefully the results of the High Level Meeting on Global Road Safety can trickle down to the countries and people, and their roads that need it most.*

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