Russia takes lead on global road safety initiatives

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Russia takes lead on global road safety initiatives
Road traffic injures are the eighth-biggest cause of death worldwide. By 2030, they will become the fifth-largest cause of death, unless urgent action is taken. In the face of this epidemic, Russia is leading a global charge to improve road safety.

Around half of those killed in these accidents are pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists. The impact on families and society is devastating. Strategies exist that are proven to reduce road traffic injures and, through their implementation, a number of countries have successfully taken steps to reduce their rod traffic death toll.

Russia is among those countries that have worked successfully to cope with the problem, reducing the number of deaths and injures and becoming active in promoting road safety on the international stage.

In November 2009, Russia hosted the first Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Moscow, which led to the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly in 2010. Sponsored by Russia and many other countries, this resolution later led to the approval of the international ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020,’ designed to tackle what it described as “a major public health problem which, if unaddressed, may affect the sustainable development of countries and hinder the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.”

The importance of reducing road injures was also recognized in the Rio+20 Communique ‘The Future We Want,’ which followed the Russian proposal at the summit.

Russia is also an active member of the Commission for Global Road Safety, which has been a leading advocate for a stronger international response to the global plague of road traffic injures.

On May 7, 2013, Russia will host another major road safety event in St. Petersburg: The ‘Decade of Action Policy & Donor Forum 2013: Safe Roads for All.’ It is an annual event that brings together international policymakers, philanthropies, NGOs and private-sector companies to review the progress of the UN’s ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety,’ and to share international examples of best practices. The meeting summit will review the policies and interventions that major emerging economies – including the BRICS nations – can use to ensure the safety of all travelers in an age of rapid motorization.

A new report will be published at this meeting by the Commission for Global Road Safety, and will include policy recommendations for the automotive industry. Issues to be also covered include safer road infrastructure, vehicle crash testing programs, new vehicle technologies, pedestrian safety measures and a post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Though there are clear sign of improvement in this sphere, some reports, including by the WHO, show that road death injury continues to increase in some countries. It is now vitally important to maintain the momentum and positive trends, like those we have in Russia, to build up our countermeasures against this problem.

Russia’s St. Petersburg summit will be another opportunity to do just that ahead of the ‘Friends of the Decade’ gathering of governments, UN agencies and leading road safety NGOs in Stockholm in June 2013.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.