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Statements in International Organisations


United Nations - General Assembly: Agenda Item 46: Global Road Safety Crisis:»Improving Global Road Safety« (New York)

Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Ms Sanja Štiglic Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations


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Mr. Chairman,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia  and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.

Traffic collisions are at epidemic levels in many states and there seems to be a widespread acceptance that they are an inevitable consequence of ever-increasing mobility.

The WHO has estimated that in 2002 almost 1.2 million people died in road crashes worldwide and as many as 50 million were injured. Failure to act could not only double the number by 2020, but would see injuries from road traffic placed at the third highest contributor to the global burden of disease and injuries.

Nonetheless, many societies and Governments have chosen to face this challenge. Indeed, mentalities are changing as regard to road safety: road accident fatalities are no longer accepted as an inevitable corollary of increased mobility.

In the EU we can look to the successes of countries like United Kingdom, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Against the background of rising vehicle populations and increases in driver numbers, these states have recorded dramatic reductions in road casualty levels. In parallel to these success stories, other European countries have also achieved considerable improvements. It is important to underline that these successes are generally based on the adoption of, wide-ranging planned approaches to road safety policy with ambitious targets.

In fact, the European Union has recognized that there is scope for greater advances if all of the member states are prepared to share not just a vision for the future but also the best practice that has delivered such progress at national level in the past. Referring to recent developments in this regard the European Commission has issued a mid-term review on the European Road Safety Action Program expressing that we reached a lot in the last five years, yet more must be done together to achieve our objectives. The European Road Safety Action Program tabled by the European Commission in June 2003 has at its centre the goal of the realization of a reduction of 50% in the number of people killed in traffic collisions by 2010 as compared to 2001.

The European Parliament and the Council of European Ministers of Transport have, on several occasions, subscribed explicitly to this goal. In doing so, they have placed road safety very high on the political agenda, and it will remain there, since they have also acknowledged that improving road safety requires a continuous effort.

The Program identifies as main causes of collisions and as major contributing factors to their effects: excessive speed, drinking and driving and not-using protective measures such as seat belts and motorcycle helmets. For this reason, it underlines the urgent need for stricter enforcement of existing legislation in that respect. Furthermore, The Action Program provides European States with an overview of the relevant information which is required in order to achieve the goal of a 50% reduction of road accident fatalities. It also describes structures through which we can better address these issues and provides the information required to replicate the performance of those states which have taken the lead in road safety policy.

The Program also places great emphasis on the absolute need to engage civil society in the delivery of better road safety. To that effect, it encourages the signing of a "Road Safety Charter" by actors from the public and private sectors, in which these actors should list their individual aims and actions concerning road safety.

The EU Action Program also places great emphasis on the need for the gathering of collision data and the information relating to collision prevention programs deployed in each of the member states. This will be achieved through the establishment of the European Road Safety Observatory which shall disseminate information on best practices in addressing road safety challenges.

Of course, it is clear that we should exchange best practice across all nations worldwide, not just within the European Union. We can all learn from the relevant experience of other nations in this context. To meet this challenge, we highly appreciate the initiative by the Russian Federation to host and provide the necessary financial support for the First Global High-Level conference on Road Safety, to be held in 2009, to bring together delegations of Ministers, and representatives to discuss and to exchange information and best practices.

The lack of visibility of road traffic injuries has a direct impact on political will to recognize and address the problem. Against this background the EU established a European Road Safety Day. The first European Road Safety Day on 27 April 2007 was a day for young people sharing experiences. It focused on the subjects of alcohol and drugs in traffic, training and education. The second road safety day, to be held on 13 October 2008 in Paris, will address the subject of "Road Safety in our Cities".

Having heard that the major contributing factors to road crashes and injuries are, drink driving, lack of helmet use, seat belt non compliance, excessive speed, and poor infrastructure design and management we know that many of these deaths are preventable. That is why we must act together to take up this challenge to drastically reduce the numbers of our citizens that needlessly lose their lives on roads every day of every year.

Thank you Mr. Chairman


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Date: 31.03.2008