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UN marks 14th Global Road Safety Week

The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and the Ministry of Health and Population of Egypt today ( May 14, 2017) marked the fourth United Nations Global Road Safety Week during a regional celebration held at WHO premises in Cairo. The week and its related campaign “Save Lives: Slow Down” draw attention to the dangers of speed and the measures which should be put in place to address this leading risk for road traffic deaths and injuries. Studies indicate that typically 40–50% of drivers do not adhere to speed limits. Excessive and inappropriate speed is a key road safety risk factor, contributing to about one third of fatal road traffic crashes in high-income countries and up to half in low-income countries. Road traffic injuries continue to be a grave public health concern regionally and globally.

“Excessive speed is the main reason behind road traffic injuries,” noted Dr Dr Mahmoud Fikri, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean.. “Addressing road traffic injuries has been designated as a priority area for the WHO Regional Office over the next five years with the aim of supporting countries in their efforts to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our roads and address this key public health issue,” he added. The Eastern Mediterranean Region accounts for almost 10% of global road traffic deaths and has the second highest road traffic fatality rate in the world after WHO’s African Region. The majority of deaths occur among males and the younger and economically active age groups (15–44 years), with serious implications for health and development.

The celebration was inaugurated by Dr Fikri, WHO Regional Director, Richard Dictus, the UN Resident Coordinator, H.E. the Minister of Health and Population of Egypt Dr Ahmed Emad El Din Rady, and was attended by several prominent representatives from concerned Egyptian authorities, United Nations agencies and nongovernmental organizations active in road safety efforts.

In advance of the fourth UN Global Road Safety Week, 8–14 May 2017, WHO has released a new report entitled: “Managing speed”. The report suggests that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to 1 in 3 of road traffic fatalities worldwide. The report highlights measures to address speed, prevent road traffic deaths and injuries, make populations healthier, and cities more sustainable.

Evidence has shown that a 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in fatal road traffic crashes. It is thus imperative to strengthen efforts for speed management as part of a comprehensive safe system approach to achieve road safety-related goals of the Decade of Action of Road Safety 2011–2020 and the targets of Sustainable Development Goals.

Speed management measures include:

building or modifying roads to include features that calm traffic, such as roundabouts and speed bumps;
establishing speed limits appropriate to the function of each road;
enforcing speed limits through the use of manual and automated controls;
installing in-vehicle technologies in new cars, such as intelligent speed assistance and autonomous emergency braking;
raising awareness about the dangers of speed.