Global gathering of ministers charts concrete ways to reduce road traffic deaths by 50% by 2020

18 NOVEMBER 2015 I BRASILIA - For only the second time in history, ministers of transport, health and interior and their representatives will convene in Brasilia, Brazil to address the global road safety crisis. The 2nd Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety, which will gather 1500 delegates from more than 100 countries including 60 ministers, will define the urgent measures needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development's ambitious target to halve road traffic deaths by the end of this decade.
Hosted by the Government of Brazil and co-sponsored by WHO, the Conference follows the release one month ago of the WHO Global status report on road safety 2015. The report indicates that despite improvements in road safety, some 1.25 million people die each year on the world's roads. It warns that while the number of road traffic deaths is stabilizing - despite rapid increase in the number of motor vehicles worldwide and a growing population - the pace of change is too slow. 
Other key statistics from the report include:
  • Road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among those aged 15-29 years.
  • 49% of all road traffic deaths are among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • Although low-income and middle-income countries have only half of the world's vehicles, they have 90% of the world's road traffic deaths.
  • Rates of road traffic death are highest in the WHO African Region at 26.6 per 100 000 population and lowest in the WHO European Region at 9.3 per 100 000 population.
  • The worst performing countries in terms of their road safety record have a road traffic fatality rate more than ten times higher than the best performing countries. 
The Global status report on road safety 2015 defines many of the key road safety measures to be highlighted during the Conference, including strategies to: 
  • improve laws and enforcement on risks such as speeding, drinking and driving, and failing to use seat-belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints;
  • make roads safer through infrastructural modifications, such as sidewalks and lanes separating cyclists and motorcyclists from vehicles;
  • ensure that vehicles are equipped with life-saving technologies including seat-belts, air bags and electronic stability control; and
  • enhance emergency trauma care systems for victims of road traffic crashes.  
In addition to target 3.6 which aims to "By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes", the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development's target 11.2 seeks to "By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all". These reflect already burgeoning efforts across many countries and cities to rethink policies related to the use of public spaces including roads, and the impact such decisions can have not only on the safety of roads, but also on the health of the people who use them.  
"Policy-makers need to look afresh at their transport policies," said Dr Etienne Krug, Director of WHO's Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.  "Making walking and cycling safer requires us to refocus our attention on how people and vehicles share the road. If we make these activities safer, there will be fewer deaths from road traffic crashes and people will be able to reap the rewards of greater physical activity, better air quality, and ultimately more liveable cities. "
Among many others, key speakers during the Conference include:
  1. Ms Dilma Rousseff, President, Federative Republic of Brazil
  2. Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO
  3. Dr Marcelo Costa e Castro, Minister of Health, Federative Republic of Brazil
  4. Ms Zoleka Mandela, Global Ambassador, Make Roads Safe
  5. Dr Carissa Etienne, Director, Pan American Health Organization, and, Regional Director for the Americas, WHO
  6. Ms Michelle Yeoh, Global Ambassador, Make Roads Safe 
The Conference is expected to adopt the "Brasilia Declaration on Road Safety", which will guide action through the end of the UN's Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. Among other points, the Declaration encourages WHO, in collaboration with other UN agencies, to facilitate development of specific national, regional and global targets to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries and ensure these targets are used to measure progress towards achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 
2nd Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety
Global status report on road safety 2015

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