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Countries adopt blueprint to improve road safety systematically, harnessing UN legal instruments‎

Published: 01 April 2020

Faced with a road safety emergency that costs 1.35 million lives a year, the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, held in Stockholm, launched a call for unprecedented efforts to halve road fatalities by 2030. The milestone Stockholm Declaration recognizes the urgent need for effective national and subnational strategies and action plans for road safety to translate renewed political commitment into transformative action.

Countries have adopted a set of recommendations on strengthening national road safety systems that can help to make this vision a reality. The recommendations provide actionable ways governments can make their roads safer.

The decision, which entered into force today, was taken in Geneva on 28 February 2020, during the 82nd Annual Session of the Inland Transport Committee (ITC), the United Nations’ regulatory platform in the field of inland transport.

The Recommendations form a universal road safety blueprint that can be applied in any country’s national road safety system, helping to identify and address key gaps with specific and interconnected actions across areas to be taken by different actors. They are founded on the success of today’s best performers in road safety and draw on the experience of the aviation and maritime sectors in effective safety management.

Road crashes are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29. Additionally, road traffic injuries are estimated to create a $1.85 trillion burden on the global economy each year, slowing down sustainable development. Road traffic injuries costs families, cost economies, cost society and are among the most pressing challenges of our time. However, this can change. 

For over 70 years, the ITC and its subsidiary bodies have provided a forum for governments to come together and develop international legally binding instruments on inland transport, including many on road safety.

Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of UNECE, stated “By helping countries to address the major causes of crashes by harnessing the UN road safety legal instruments, these recommendations will support accelerated efforts to save lives and translate the ambition of the Stockholm Declaration into concrete action. UNECE will continue to support all UN Member States to benefit from these tools”.

Indeed the clarity of purpose of the Stockholm Declaration was enshrined in Operative Clause 6, which encouraged “Member States that have not yet done so to consider becoming contracting parties to the United Nations legal instruments on road safety as well as applying, implementing and promoting their provisions or safety regulations, and ensure that legislation and standards for road design and construction, vehicles, and road use are consistent with safe system principles and are enforced”.

Furthermore, Operative Clause 7 resolved to “Include road safety and a safe system approach as an integral element of land use, street design, transport system planning and governance, especially for vulnerable road users and in urban areas, by strengthening institutional capacity with regard to road safety laws and law enforcement, vehicle safety, infrastructure improvements, public transport, post-crash care, and data”.

To make the most of this opportunity, a clear concept of how national road safety systems can be based on the international legal instruments is required. The ITC Recommendations bridge the missing link. They demonstrate how international road safety legal instruments, which have been developed at UNECE over decades and have proven results in reducing fatalities and injuries, can be adapted at the national level so that all countries can benefit.    

The Recommendations, which were reviewed during the ITC annual session, were unanimously approved and published today. The Recommendations will be periodically reviewed and updated to ensure their continued relevance to national and international contexts.

The Recommendations are available at: https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/doc/2020/itc/ECE-TRANS-2020-9e.pdf


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