In a tightly packed conference room, representatives from a variety of organizations, public agencies and sponsors met to witness the inauguration of the UN Road Safety Trust Fund. The trust fund was established to combat road traffic deaths and injuries that cause - according to the UN, an average of 1.3 million deaths and 50 million injuries annually.
Organizations like the International Association for Public Transportation (UITP), attended the event due to the significant impact that improved road safety can have on public transportation, especially for bus and light rail systems that often share the same right of way with vehicles. In addition, as public transit agencies look towards automation, point to point transportation services and digitalization, public transit systems will benefit from increased attention towards safer roads and driving habits.
As the UN continues to push forward on meeting its Sustainable Development Goals, it became clear that there needed to be an international response to fund, study and promote safer roads worldwide. “Looking ahead it is important to recognize the projected increase in urbanization, motorization, infrastructure development and vehicle ownership around the world” said Ms. Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria during the 82nd plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly. Traffic related injuries have a significant impact on the lives of millions of people and can dramatically undercut key aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals including reducing poverty and hunger and promoting good health and well-being for communities worldwide.
The Road Safety Trust Fund will be managed by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) due to significant support from many of the member states of the commission including the Russian Federation where nearly 26,500 people died in 2013 due to traffic related incidents according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Significant organizations at the event included representatives from the World Bank, which led investment and studies in road safety via the Global Road Safety Facility, the WHO which tracks and monitors road traffic deaths as a significant contribution to non-disease related fatalities, and the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety which helps coordinate the efforts of local, national and international NGOs involved in road safety.
The UN hopes to use the funds for the Road Safety Trust Fund to meet the Sustainable Development Goals to half the number of deaths due to traffic related injuries by 2020.
Statistics on road related incidents can be found on WHO’s website here