The UN General Assembly has declared 2011-2020 as the first "Decade of Action for Road Safety" in a bid to halt increasing trends in traffic deaths and injuries worldwide.
Welcoming the initiative in a Statement copied to the Ghana News Agency, Dr. Ala Alam, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said "this Decade of Action for Road Safety is long overdue".
He added that "It would help increase action to address what would otherwise become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030".
The proclamation comes as a result of the first Global Ministerial conference on Road safety held by the Russia Federation in November 2009, dubbed the "Moscow Declaration".
The Moscow Declaration issued by ministers and senior officials from 150 countries underlined the importance of protecting all road users, in particular those who were most vulnerable such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Dr Alam noted that road traffic injuries were a major public health problem killing nearly 1.3 million people each year and injuring as many as 50 million.
"They are the cause of deaths for children and young people aged 5-29 years", he said and lamented that almost half of the world's road traffic fatalities were among pedestrians, cyclist sand motorcyclists, with more than 90 per cent occurring in developing countries.
Dr Alam said while road traffic death rates in many high-income countries had declined in recent decades, research suggested that road deaths were increasing in most regions of the world and that if trends continued, they would rise to an estimated 2.4 million deaths a year by 2030.
Dr Alam said member states, with support from the international community, had committed to action in areas such as developing and enforcing legislation on key risk factors including limiting speed, reducing drink-driving, and increasing the use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets.
He said efforts would also be undertaken to improve emergency trauma care, upgrade road and Vehicle safety standards, promote road safety education and enhance road safety management in general.
Road traffic injuries are a major public health problem killing nearly 1.3 million people each year and injuring as many as 50 million.
They are the leading cause of deaths for children and young people aged five to 29 with more than 90 per cent occurring in developing countries.
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