An unprecedented international effort to reduce the appalling toll of global road death and injury has begun with the launch of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Michael Bloomberg launch Decade in New York City
UK Prime Minister David Cameron joins F1 stars Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with local school children to launch Decade of Action
The Tag was featured at Times Square, New York
Global Road Safety Ambassador Michelle Yeoh signs the Decade pledge board in Shanghai, China
The iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio, was lit yellow for the Decade launch
The global effort to save five million lives and prevent 50 million serious injuries has been marked with major launch events in countries around the world. The UN is launching the Decade in the face of a worldwide epidemic of road deaths. Road crashes are now the number one killer of young people over the age of 10 around the world.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "The launch today of the Decade of Action for Road Safety can help all countries drive along the path to a more secure future. 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."
UK Prime Minister David Cameron, launching the Decade of Action in Downing Street, said: ""Every six seconds someone is killed or seriously injured on the world's roads. We simply cannot go on like this. The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety is a vital opportunity to implement the policies that can make road traffic safer and more sustainable, and protect future generations. Together, we can save millions of lives".
President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia said; ""The international community has a duty to develop a common strategy and joint action to enhance road safety".
Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia, said: "With coordinated global action through the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, let us ensure that the ten years ahead mark a turning point for global road safety, thus sparing people from avoidable deaths and injuries that cause so much anguish and cost for our communities".
Major events around the world began at the New Zealand and then the Australian Parliaments. In China, Global Road Safety Ambassador Michelle Yeoh joined the health minister and senior officials for the country's launch in Beijing and urged companies " to contribute to the global Road Safety Fund for the Decade of Action, to support much needed investment in road safety here in China and across the wider region"; In South Africa, Transport Minister described the launch of the Decade of Action as "a global declaration of war against road crashes and fatalities". In Kenya, David Ward, Joint Chairman of the Road Safety Fund, visited the Spinal Injuries Hospital in Nairobi, where 70% of casualties are road victims; Tom Frieden, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control & Injury Prevention, led a launch on Capitol Hill in Washington DC; and President Calderon of Mexico was due to address a Latin American Ministerial road safety conference in Mexico.
On 10 May, the night before the Decade launch, the yellow road safety Tag, the world's new road safety symbol, was beamed onto high profile landmarks including Trafalgar Square, the Moscow State University, New York's Times Square, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
"None of us should have to bear the grief and devastation caused by a road traffic crash" said Dr Etienne Krug, WHO Director of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability and Joint Chairman of the Road Safety Fund. "The steps outlined in the Global Plan for the Decade are immediately doable, and will do much to spare the suffering of so many."
To see an Economist article on the launch, please click here.