GHANA MARKS UN DECADE OF ACTION FOR ROAD SAFETY FIRST ANNIVERSARY
5/15/2012 5:54:22 PM -
Ghana joined other countries globally on Friday May 11, 2012 to mark the first anniversary of the United Nations Decade of Action (DOA) for Road Safety (2011-2020), an effort to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world by increasing activities conducted at the national, regional and global levels.
The UN DOA for Road Safety, launched last year, is the first global effort to manage road safety calling upon governments and institutions to increase their commitment to address road deaths and injuries.
One Hundred (100) governments co-sponsored the UN resolution establishing the Decade of Action, committing to work to achieve this ambitious objective through an 'Action Plan' with targets for raising helmet and seat belt use, promoting safer road infrastructure and protecting vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.
Mr Kwame Koduah Atuahene, the Head of Communications of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), said the commission is on course to meet the decade expectation with the development of the National Road Safety Strategy III 2011-2020 (NRSSIII) that provides the broad strategic road safety management framework.
'The National Road Safety Action Plans (NRSAP) for the period 2011-2013, that specify in details the road safety interventions of the implementing agencies towards road safety improvement efforts'', he added.
President John Evans Atta Mills, in his foreword to the National Road Safety Strategy III says 'Ghana fully endorses the Decade of Action for Road Safety including the call for increased political will and sustainable funding for road safety measure. There is no justification for the continuing loss of lives, productivity and income due to road traffic accidents'.
Mr Noble John Appiah, Executive Director of the NRSC says 'We have decided to commemorate this day with a nationwide candlelight procession in memory of our departed friends, relatives and the several others who have sustained life threatening injuries as a result of road traffic crashes. We trust that it will help emphasis the road safety problem and engineer the passion that is required from all our stakeholders in implementing the solutions that we have agreed'.
There is the need to act on reducing road crashes because, according to statistics from the United Nations, 1.3 million people are killed on the world's roads each year, road crashes kill more people than Malaria, and 50 million people are injured, many disabled as a result. More disturbing is the fact that 90% of these casualties occur in developing countries, with the economic cost to developing countries valued at least $100 billion a year. Annual deaths are forecast to rise to 1.9 million by 2020 as well as by 2015 become the leading health burden for children over the age of five in developing countries.
'Every year, around 80,000 children aged 5-14 years in developing countries lose their right to education for a single tragic reason: they are killed on the world's roads, often making the journey to school,' said Dr Kevin Watkins, UN Development Adviser.
Leading road safety experts believe that, with the right action, up to 5 million lives could be saved and 50 million injuries prevented during the Decade of Action. This would represent a reduction of about 50% on the predicted global death toll by 2020.
Yet these lives can only be saved if the international community and national governments translate their rhetoric into measurable action. The agenda for the action include, deliver 'vaccines' for road safety, design safer roads, build safer vehicles, and mobilise international support.
Deliver vaccines for road safety
The knowledge and the 'vaccines' exist to tackle this epidemic and quickly begin to reduce casualties: using motorcycle helmets and seat belts; government action to tackle drink driving, speeding and to improve driver training and licensing. The governments that have signed up to the 2009 Moscow Declaration on Road Safety and the UN resolution for a Decade of Action have a moral obligation to deliver these vaccines to their people.
Design safer roads
Unsafe roads are still being built with international aid money. This must stop. Safe infrastructure design can save thousands of lives. The World Bank, regional development banks and leading donors have now committed to make road safety a priority in their multi-billion dollar lending portfolios. The Make Roads Safe campaign will keep up the pressure to ensure these words are followed by action.
Build safer vehicles
Vehicle manufacturers have a responsibility to produce safe cars. They must meet this obligation, in every market. All cars should be engineered for safety, and basic safety measures like air bags should no longer be considered optional extras. Motorcycle manufacturers must do more to proactively encourage helmet use.
Mobilise international support
By investing $30 million a year in catalytic action, leading donor countries and major public health philanthropies could transform the way road safety is understood and managed across the developing world. More can and must be done to support and enable countries to tackle their road safety problems, starting with better data on road injuries and building home-grown expertise in road injury prevention.
'It is time for those who can make a real difference - the governments, international financial institutions, the donor community, development activists and the millions who are angry but silent - to step up to meet this challenge and to commit to the Decade of Action for Road Safety', said Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.