What is Global Road Safety Week?
The United Nations Global Road Safety Week is organized every other year in May by WHO and the UN regional commissions. This UN General Assembly mandated the observance of this week ‘to serve as a platform for global and regional, but mainly national and local, activities to raise awareness about road safety issues and to stimulate and advance responses as appropriate for these settings.’
A Brief History of Global Road Safety Week
The First Global Road Safety Week, organized in 2007, took inspiration from road safety weeks organized by the Economic Commission for Europe and World Health Day in 2004. For its first edition, the theme was “young road users, including young drivers" with the slogan “Road Safety is No Accident”. Since then several road safety weeks have been organized, each with a different theme aimed at highlighting the global road safety crisis and addressing specific road safety issues.
In 2013, the 2nd Global Road Safety Week was held with the theme ‘Pedestrian Safety’, and it has been held regularly since then. This week aimed to focus on the need to protect pedestrians worldwide and take strategic actions to ensure the same.
The 3rd United Nations Road Safety Week (2015) was dedicated to the plight of children on the world's roads while in its 4th edition (2017), the agenda was to urge people to #slowdown and drive at a safe speed so that they can arrive at their destination safely.
Leadership for Road Safety was the major focus for the 5th week (2019) wherein action was launched through the campaign: Save Lives - #SpeakUp. 2021 marked an important milestone as the 6th UN Global Road Safety Week kicked off the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 and was dedicated to the promotion of low-speed limits for streets where people and traffic mix. The latest edition will be held in 2023 from 15th-21st May.
UN Global Road Safety Week 2023
This 7th Global Road Safety Week is striving to bring to the forefront the need for sustainable transport, in particular, the need to shift to walking, cycling, and using public transport. This year's initiatives include organizing events/ activities and spreading messages/ materials on social media with the hashtags - #RethinkMobility, #StreetsforLife, and #RoadSafety.
In response to the 1.3 million lives lost to road accidents and the 50 million people injured, UN launched the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 with the intention of reducing road accidents by 50% by 2030. This week will also mark efforts to achieve this ambitious target by “addressing the whole of the transport system, taking action to ensure safe roads, vehicles and behaviours as well as to improve emergency care.”
Key Messages of UN Global Road Safety Week 2023
There is a desperate need for governments and their partners to rethink mobility.
The transportation industry is continually changing, with new developments and technology appearing all the time. We think it is crucial for governments all over the world to rethink mobility in order to stay up with the times and tackle the problems of sustainable development. Moving to sustainable forms of transportation, such as biking, taking public transportation, walking, carpooling, etc., is urgently needed. This change necessitates the implementation of new legislation and a large infrastructural investment. It is also crucial to remember how affordable sustainable forms of travel are and to reframe them as alternatives for everyone, not only those who are economically disadvantaged.
Safety must be at the core of efforts to reimagine how we move in the world.
Road Accidents are a leading cause of fatalities all around the world. It has become a global concern and yet it doesn’t get its due recognition. We believe that for any initiatives in this sector to be fruitful, safety has to be prioritized. Only with governments, individuals, companies, NGOs, etc. holding safety as a core value, a difference will be made in the world. This is the only way to ensure road safety and mitigate road accidents.
To ensure safety, road networks must be designed with the most at risk in mind.
Roads have been designed inherently to facilitate the movement of cars. Over the years, the number of cars plying the roads has increased exponentially. With this, the dangers posed to other road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, etc. have also grown. So, it is vital to redesign these roads keeping in mind the safety of the most at risk or vulnerable groups such as ‘children and adolescents, people with disabilities, pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transport’
When safe, walking and cycling can contribute to making people healthy, cities sustainable, and societies equitable.
Modes of transportation such as walking and cycling have the potential to create an equitable society wherein people from all socioeconomic backgrounds have equal access to the opportunities in the city. It is also safe for the environment and humans as it reduces air and noise pollution, thereby reducing the prevalence of diseases associated with environmental pollution. When we opt for cycling and walking, we become a part of sustainable urbanization, preserving resources for future generations.
Safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable public transport is a solution for many of societies’ ills.
Developing a sustainable, affordable, cheap, and accessible transport system that serves all users and does not prioritize any particular group of people will result in the creation of a fair society. Investment in the creation and infrastructure of such existing modes if transportation will open up wide avenues of opportunities for people hailing from all walks of life. It will also lead to lesser congestion and lesser emission on urban roads.