Enough is enough
After observing a moment of silence for those killed or seriously injured on roads around the world, Mr. Shahid spelled out that “daunting and disturbing” statistics on road safety “can…[and] must change,” describing the meeting as “one step” towards that end.
He said he had five key messages on the issue, first, that “no deaths on our streets are acceptable”.
“Road safety falls under the umbrella of the universal right to health,” for which “safety is paramount”.
Secondly the Assembly President said the Global Plan was “key to reducing deaths and boosting development,” adding that safe systems must be “front and centre” in organizing, designing and building good road systems.
He said the High-Level Meeting itself on road safety, had the potential to “mark a critical juncture” in reducing deaths, and added that it was crucial for governments to implement the Global Plan’s recommendations, including by setting national and sub-national reduction targets; outlining detailed plans for action; and ensuring sustainable financing.
Stressing the significance of transformative leadership, his fourth point was to stress that road safety should be made a political priority “at the highest levels of government”.
Finally, he said, “everyone has a role to play”.
“From urban planners, to engineers, and academia, to civil society,” each person must accept their responsibilities. And mechanisms should be put in place to support them, such as in designing and maintaining roads, manufacturing vehicles, and administering safety programmes.
“The time for action from governments, societies and communities is now”, he said.
“Safe mobility systems offer the promise of a safer, healthier and better future for everyone, everywhere. Let us seize this opportunity”, he concluded.
Secretary-General António Guterres reminded that road fatalities are closely linked to poor infrastructure, unplanned urbanization, lax healthcare systems, and persistent inequalities both within and between countries.
At the same time, unsafe roads are a key obstacle to development.
“Traffic accidents can push entire families into poverty through either the loss of a breadwinner or the costs associated with lost income and prolonged medical care,” he said.
“Safer roads promote sustainable development”.