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Ndebele calls for road safety to be part of the global agenda

3 May 2012

New York: SADC Road Safety Champion, and South Africa’s Transport Minister, Sibusiso Ndebele has called on the international community to ensure that road safety is part of the global development agenda.

Addressing high-level international road safety policymakers and academics yesterday 2 May, at the Commission for Global Road Safety: Policy & Donor Forum 2012 currently taking place in New York, Ndebele said: “Every year almost 1.3 million people are killed, and millions more injured and disabled, on the world’s roads. The importance of including road safety as part of a new approach to sustainable transport cannot be over-emphasised. Road safety must be part of the sustainable development agenda, recognizing the impact of road traffic injuries on Development Goals.  We, therefore, call upon the international community to ensure that road safety is part of the global development agenda.  Transport policy generally, and road safety specifically, has been side-lined as development issues despite an environmental and public impact that is arguably comparable to other major issues including HIV and AIDS and malaria.  The consequence has been lack of political attention, media understanding and donor and government underfunding.

“The road safety challenge has presented the global community a ticking time bomb.  Road traffic crashes have become a sheer detriment to Africa’s development through the loss of capital, human life and destruction to property. Africa has the highest road injury fatality rate of all World Health Organization regions.  By 2015, road crashes will be the number one killer of children aged 5-14, outstripping Malaria and HIV and AIDS.  Road crashes are estimated to cost African countries between 1-3% of their Gross National Product (GNP).  The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 must be put firmly within the global development agenda. We cannot afford the economic and human cost of inaction anymore.

“The global movement against road deaths must be accelerated.  The greatest partners in this struggle against road carnage must be those who have lost relatives and friends in road crashes. The second group of partners in this fight must be the very young, who are yet to acquire bad driving habits, to whom wearing a seatbelt, not drinking and driving can still be acquired as a force of habit.  The third set of partners must be the religious sector who shoulder the burden of burying the dead every day of the year somewhere around the world. It is the living who close the eyes of the dead, but it is the dead who must open the eyes of the living,” Ndebele said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), during the course of the decade (2011-2020), as many as five million lives could be saved and 50 million serious injuries prevented if road safety programmes are implemented worldwide.

The Decade of Action Policy & Donor Forum will address the role of road safety and sustainable transportation in contributing to shared goals for sustainable development, particularly in the context of the forthcoming “Rio+20” U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, as well as focusing on the investment case for funding global road traffic injury prevention.

Enquiries:

Logan Maistry
Cell: +2783 644 4050
Issued by: Department of Transport
3 May 2012