Addis Ababa — The Fifth United Nations Global Road Safety Week, which runs from 6-12 May, kicked off today with a call for strong leadership around the globe to advance road safety in countries and communities.
Strong leadership is needed at national and local levels if the world is to attain road safety, says the campaign which seeks to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.
Halving the number of global deaths and injuries will help countries achieve the sustainable development goals. Goal 3.6 in the health goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls on governments to take new steps to reduce road traffic fatalities.
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, says it is unacceptable that the risk of death from road traffic accidents in Africa is as high as 26.6 per 100,000 compared to 17.0 in South-East Asia and 9.3 in Europe.
Road Safety Performance Reviews, jointly undertaken by ECA and the Secretariat of the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road Safety, reveal the extent of the road safety challenge in countries like Uganda and Cameroon.
The accident severity index in Uganda is 24 people killed per 100 road crashes. On average, Uganda loses 10 people per day in road traffic crashes, the highest level in East Africa. The overall annual cost of road crashes is currently estimated at approximately US$1.2 billion, representing 5 percent of Uganda's GDP.
In Cameroon, 16,583 road accidents and 1,500 deaths are recorded on average every year. The risk of road deaths is estimated at 26.7 per every 100,000 people.
The situation in Uganda and Cameroon is reflective of that of the entire continent. ECA's research shows that African countries perform poorly in road safety management.
"Many of our countries have inadequate institutional arrangements, finance, and data to deal with the carnage on our roads," said Ms. Songwe.
"Addressing these issues requires strong leadership, which is why the theme of the 2019 UN Road Safety Week; Leadership for Road Safety; is apt."
The campaign falls under the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 that was officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in March 2010. Its goal is to stabilize and reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths around the world.
The Decade of Action seeks to prevent road traffic deaths and injuries which experts project will take the lives of 1.9 million people annually by 2020.
The plan outlines steps towards improving the safety of roads and vehicles; enhancing emergency services; and building up road safety management generally. It also calls for increased legislation and enforcement on speeding.