Buckle up, make a safety statement: UN launches global campaign to enhance road safety

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Under the motto #MakeASafetyStatement, the campaign will also amplify the core messages of the New Decade of Action for Road Safety, which aims to halve the number of road-related victims by 2030.

Road safety is not high enough on the political agenda in most countries. While we know the remedies to road crashes, action is lagging behind,” said Jean Todt, UN Special Envoy for Road Safety.

“With this campaign, together with the celebrities that are joining us, and our partners JCDecaux and Saatchi & Saatchi, we are trying to revert this and mobilize the political will that is needed to increase actions and financing to save millions of lives,” he added.

Starting in New York, the campaign will run through 2025, reaching approximately 1,000 cities in more than 80 countries through billboards, social media and other platforms.

Thus far, 14 celebrities, including tennis legend Novak Djokovic, Oscar-winning actress and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh, and supermodel Naomi Campbell, have pledged their support to campaign.

Each contributed their own statement, such as “I drive slow” or “I don’t drive under the influence.”

The ‘silent pandemic’

At a press briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Todt highlighted that road accidents are the “number one killer” for individuals aged 5 to 29, with the vast majority in low- and middle-income countries.

He noted that each year, 1.2 million people die on the road, and a further 40 to 50 million are injured, many seriously.

It is a burden for the victims [and] for the family, but it is also a high cost for the countries,” Mr. Todt continued, adding that the “prescriptions” for this issue include education, communication, law enforcement, alongside quality of roads, and vehicles.

Fasten seatbelts

As a motor racing executive and former rally car co-driver, Special Envoy Todt highlighted that simple measures like fastening seatbelts in both front and rear seats or wearing a helmet could significantly improve safety.

Additionally, drivers and riders must refrain from using drugs, alcohol, or phones while operating a vehicle, and should avoid speeding.

Key road safety resolution

The campaign launch follows the recent adoption of a resolution by the General Assembly to improve road safety worldwide.

Adopted last week, the resolution calls for increased efforts to reduce road deaths and injuries by implementing the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030.

It urges Member States to ensure that road safety becomes a “political priority,” inviting those that have not yet done so to “consider adopting comprehensive legislation on key risk factors” such as the non-use of seat belts, child restraints, and helmets, as well as drinking and driving, and speeding.

Member States are also encouraged to create “ministerial coordination mechanisms”, notably among the health, transport, education, infrastructure, interior, and environment ministries, to address cross-cutting issues.