Welcome to the United Nations
Road safety

Global Vision Zero: reaching a new era in road safety 

Sunday, 27 November, 4:00 –  5:30 P.M. 

Lead  entity: UN Economic Commission  for Europe 

Every year around 1.25 million people are killed and between 20 and 50 million are seriously injured on the world’s roads, according to the World Health Organization. Traffic deaths and injuries have overwhelming effects on families everywhere. They cause enormous economic losses, estimated at around 2--‐5% of the  Gross Domestic Product  of countries. Clearly,  such levels of road deaths and serious injuries are unacceptable both in terms of human suffering as  well as societal and economic costs and are not sustainable. 

Half of all road traffic  deaths are among vulnerable  road users such as  pedestrians, cyclists and  motorcyclists. Road traffic deaths  are also the leading  cause of  death for young people aged 15--‐29, and road  traffic injuries  are the eighth  leading cause of death globally. In 2010,  the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed  a Decade  of Action for Road Safety. The goal of the Decade (2011--‐2020)  is to stabilize and  reduce the forecast level of  road traffic deaths  around the world. The Decade  reached its mid--‐term in 2015 with  little observed change in the number of global annual road traffic deaths. In addition, the  United Nations, in their Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3.6 and  SDG 11.2), have set  the target of reducing global  road fatalities and serious injuries 50%  by 2020, compared to 2010 levels.  Yet rapid motorization in many low--‐ and  middle income countries points  to the risk  of further increases in the number  of road fatalities  and serious injuries in the  coming years. Traffic in  fast--‐growing cities in particular is  becoming amajor challenge while in  countries with leading  road safety improvement results,  performance is stalling. 

With motorization rates rising rapidly around  the world, especially in low--‐ and  middle income countries, it is timely  and imperative for  all countries now  to make tangible progress  in improving  the safety of their roads if  they have not yet  started to do so,  and to further improve  their road safety record. 

In a world where more than one million  people die on the road annually, a number  of United Nations road safety Conventions, both global and regional, exist  which may be an effective instrument  to reverse such a  worrying trend. These  legal instruments cover:  traffic rules; road signs and signals;  construction and technical inspection of vehicles; road infrastructure; driving times  and rest periods for professional drivers;  safe transport of dangerous  goods and hazardous materials.  In addition, different decision making tools in support of the  most appropriate road safety policies can  be used, such as Safe  Future Inland Transport Systems  (SafeFits) that is being  developed by the UN  Economic Commission or  Europe.  That is based  on a 3600 road safety approach  and could be viewed as complementary to safe system as it  offers its road safety international  legal instruments as global public goods to the international  community.  

The  experience of countries who have  introduced some  form of “Vision  Zero” (as it is commonly  called) is useful as it  provides a  framework for the implementation of integrated  road safety policies with the  potential to bring road  safety performance closer to  the ultimate aspiration. The experience of countries achieving the lowest levels of  death and injury could therefore provide useful  lessons. A common feature of several well--‐ performing countries is that they have  adopted a long--‐term policy  goal that no--‐one should be killed or seriously injured  in a crash on their roads.

 A  Decade of Action for Road  Safety 2011--‐2020 has been established and consists of five pillars which  are: (i) Road Safety Management which concerns the institutional framework  needed to implement road  safety activities, and thereby sets the oversight  of all other pillars; (ii) Safer roads and  mobility that deals with road development, the  safety of all road users, especially pedestrians and other vulnerable users; (iii) Safer vehicles  which focuses on standards, entry and exit  of vehicles into and from countries;  (iv) Safer drivers and  other road users  that addresses driver  training, testing and licensing, driving permits  and enforcement of the  riving code, awareness and  education of the public, and the development of a safety  culture, and (v) Post--‐crash response which  deals with on--‐site care, transport and trauma care of injured. 

Although universally adopted, implementation  of the five  pillars on the  ground is facing  a whole plethora of obstacles in many  countries. One  can start from the most obvious, lacking  in many  countries, – political support to road safety,  and then continues with: lack of awareness about the magnitude of the road safety problem coupled with lack of availability of quality  data on road safety, absence of adequate  and effective legal and regulatory as well as institutional frameworks needed to implement  road safety activities with lasting  results, lack of safe infrastructure, slow vehicle fleet renewal prevents the entry  of safer vehicles, and absence of effective post--‐crash response. All these  would also warrant appropriate funding facilities at both national and international levels. 

Drastically reducing road  fatalities and serious injuries on a global scale will need more than increasing efforts in implementing traditional road safety measures. The sustainable development goals SDGs)  provide an opportunity for governments  to fundamentally review their road safety  policies and explore new approaches that deliver significantly better  results, but for them to show  real progress a fundamental  paradigm shift in the way the road safety problem is  viewed is needed, as well as in the strategies  used to  address it.his  paradigm shift should  involve a move from  traditional road safety policies to an integrated view on new mobility in  which road  traffic becomes a  “safe system”  where crashes are prevented. 

In addition to  sharing best practices and  experiences, discussion will focus  on implementation of  road safety related UN Conventions and aims at demonstrating that their implementation is indispensable in the effort to address all road safety challenges and reverse the trend in  growing number of victims of road crashes in  many countries in the  world. These conventions have great potential to contribute to improved road safety situation  in countries which have not yet acceded to them.

Possible questions for discussion: 

1. What policies could most efficiently  enable us to achieve the  road safety related SDGs and how can UN road safety Conventions  be implemented to  benefit road safety? 

2. How the various  road safety activities could be most effectively financed? 

3. Is “Vision zero” achievable on the global level?  What needs to be done to achieve it?