UN General Assembly urges halving of global road traffic deaths by 2030

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FIA Foundation Chairman Lord Robertson speaking at the Stockholm Ministerial Conference on Road Safety.
FIA Foundation Chairman Lord Robertson speaking at the Stockholm Ministerial Conference on Road Safety.

The United Nations General Assembly has approved a second UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, to 2030, reaffirming commitment to the road safety Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target to halve road traffic deaths and serious injuries. A High Level Meeting of government leaders will be held in 2022 to push for new momentum.

The new UN Resolution, adopted on 31st August, has been welcomed by the FIA Foundation – which, through its Make Roads Safe campaign, first proposed a Decade of Action in 2008 and subsequently campaigned for inclusion of road safety in the SDGs. But the campaigning philanthropy warned that the failures of the first Decade of Action, in particular a so far disappointing response from governments and international donors, need to be addressed if ambitious objectives are to be achieved by 2030.

FIA Foundation Executive Director Saul Billingsley said: “This is a strong resolution, endorsing the Stockholm Declaration and recognising that, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, road traffic deaths and injuries must become more of a global health and developmental priority. But words must now be matched by action. Too many governments are still tolerating appalling levels of preventable death and injury, particularly amongst their young people. The international development community is still not reacting with any sense of urgency. This has to change if we are to achieve the goal of halving road deaths by the end of 2030.”

The first Decade of Action concludes at the end of 2020. Its objective was to ‘stabilise and then reduce’ road traffic deaths. While road death rates have stabilised and lives have undoubtedly been saved when set against projected death rate increases, the number of actual deaths on the world’s roads have stubbornly remained around 1.35 million, according to World Health Organization data. The more ambitious SDG target, reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly, sets a goal of halving road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.

At the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Stockholm earlier this year, governments committed to halving road deaths by 2030 reaffirming support for the SDG target. Encouragingly, the new Resolution builds on the integrated approach of the Stockholm Declaration, emphasising the practical implementation of the Safe System approach and a strong focus on the interlinkages between sustainable mobility, including climate action, and road safety. This is in line with the Child Health Initiative’s Manifesto 2030, launched ahead of the Ministerial Conference, which calls for a transformation of urban streets by 2030 into safe, low speed and accessible space that puts people first. Within the Manifesto are a series of low-cost ‘Speed Vaccine’ interventions with universal and proven applications to reduce injury including speed reductions in urban areas to a maximum of 30 km/h wherever children and vehicles mix, and a range of physical interventions to separate traffic modes.

The UN Resolution endorses a wide set of measures which are instrumental in making roads safer. The FIA Foundation is a major contributor to this effort, promoting tougher safety standards for vehicles and infrastructure as core funder to Global NCAP and iRAP; the establishment of the UN Road Safety Fund, to which the FIA Foundation was the first major donor; and support for the FIA High Level Panel and its initiatives, including building regional capacity through the establishment of regional Road Safety Observatories.