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Jean Todt, UNRSF Advisory Board Member | United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road Safety

Road Safety has No Boundaries

Road safety has no demographic or geographic boundaries. It impacts all countries, whether low-, middle- or high-income. Wherever you are, it is about the same things: the road, your vehicle and you, the user, as well as others who may be vulnerable. 

As a former rally driver and senior executive in the motor sports industry, I have first-hand knowledge that road safety is the result of comprehensive attention to factors such as traffic management, road infrastructure’s condition, law enforcement, speed regulations, vehicle safety features and maintenance, driver education and training, as well as  quick post-crash care. These factors require concerted efforts and engagement by all stakeholders including governments, vehicle and car parts manufacturers, private sector, civil society and people. 

Ultimately, it is the individual behind the wheel or crossing the street that makes the split-second decision between safety and disaster. That is the reason why it is so important to create a traffic environment safe for all users.

Poor road safety is a neglected disaster. It incurs high human suffering and monetary cost in terms of untimely deaths, injuries and loss of potential income. Each year nearly 1.35 million people die in road crashes, whereas up to 50 million people sustain non-fatal injuries, many of them leading to disability. More than a half of these casualties and injured persons are vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. 

Unless immediate and effective action is taken, road traffic deaths could become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by 2030, resulting in an estimated 1.9 million deaths each year. Poor road safety can only be tackled properly with clear and ambitious goals, as well as with participation of all stakeholders. For the first time in history, we have a truly global fund committed to preventing road crashes and stopping senseless loss of life through a concerted multi-stakeholder approach and underpinned by relevant technical expertise and convening power: The United Nations Road Safety Fund. 

The establishment of a first-ever United Nations Road Safety Fund is a crucial achievement, marking a substantial momentum in attracting increased global attention, greater political commitment, and willingness to take action towards advancing the cause. 

In my role as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, I have been advocating for improved road safety and increased awareness of the magnitude of the issue. I am working to build sustained political commitment to address the situation, through establishing strategic partnerships with governments, civil society, regional bodies, development banks and the private sector.

However, much remains to be done. The impact of the Fund will only reach its full potential if catalytic support from it is complemented by national level investments. 

All road safety stakeholders must join forces, support the Fund and take rigorous action towards reducing road traffic fatalities and injuries. 

Only then will the vision of the Fund, to build a world where roads are safe for everyone, come true.