Road deaths… a global epidemic.

Seven-time Formula One World Champion, Michael Schumacher, endorses and advocates it.

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond Tutu, has called on the world community to work together on it.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank have issued a world report to promote it.

The 'It' topic of 2007 is, arguably, road safety - a rising epidemic that cannot be ignored.

In 2002, 1.2 million people worldwide died from accidents on the road, and 50 million injured. This means an average of 3,242 people fatal accidents everyday. In Southeast Asia alone, 811 accident victims lose their lives on the roads daily, amounting to 300,000 deaths each year.

More than 40% of deaths from road traffic accidents worldwide involve youths below 25 years old.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road accidents are the 11th leading cause of death around the world. If left unchecked, road traffic injury will become the 8th leading cause of death in the world, after HIV/AIDS and heart disease in 2030.

The First UN Global Road Safety Week

The figures are alarming and this global trend of increasing road fatalities is certainly a cause for concern. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and WHO have jointly mooted the first United Nations Global Road Safety Week (GRSW) in April, which aims at unifying United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and civilians in furthering the cause of road safety.

The main objectives of the GRSW 2007 are to:

  • Raise awareness on the societal impact of road traffic injuries, highlighting the risks for young road users
  • Promote action around key factors that have a major impact on preventing road traffic injuries such as the use of helmets wearing of seat-belts and infrastructure
  • Countering irresponsible driving habits that lead to traffic injuries, such as drink driving and speeding

The GRSW in Singapore will be jointly organised by the Traffic Police (TP) and Land Transport Authority (LTA), with support from the Automobile Association of Singapore, National Safety Council and the National Youth Council.

Themed "Road Safety is No Accident", the weeklong event will be flagged off by Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Defence, at VivoCity on Saturday, 21 April 2007. The weeklong programme includes games, exhibits, talks and keynote speeches from overseas technical experts.

In conjunction with the Traffic Police's Road Safety Outreach programme, the GRSW will also feature Shell Traffic Games.

Dr Chin Kian Keong, Chief Engineer, Transportation of LTA and Co-Chair of the GRSW Organising Committee said: "We hope that the messages arising from the GRSW events will reach out to all road users. To a large extent, road traffic accidents and deaths are preventable and GRSW is a timely platform and opportunity to heighten awareness of this. While there is a multi-agency effort to make travelling on the roads safer, ultimately, all road users have a responsibility and a part to play in reducing road traffic accidents."

Article contributed by Singapore Land Transport Authority.