Remarks by UNDP RR at UN Road Safety Week Launch 2017

May 10, 2017


UNDP Resident Representative, Bruno Pouezat


Fourth United Nations Global Road Safety Week

Theme: ‘Slowing Down Saves Lives'

Office of the Prime Minister

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Greetings and Acknowledgements

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness
  • Minister of Transport and Mining, the Hon. Mike Henry
  • Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon Christopher Tufton
  • Min of National Security, the Hon. Robert Montague (TBC)
  • Minister of Local Government, the Hon Desmond McKenzie (TBC)
  • Former Prime Minister, the Hon Bruce Golding
  • Ambassador of the United States, His Excellency Luis G. Moreno (TBC)
  • Ambassador of France, His Excellency Michel Despax 
  • Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for Road Safety, Mr. Jean Todt
  • Ambassador for the Global Initiative for Child Health and Mobility, Ms. Zoleka Mandela
  • Permanent Secretaries
  • Deputy National Road Safety Council Chairman, Dr Lucien Jones
  • Road safety ambassador Yohann Blake  
  • Heads of PAHO/WHO and UNICEF in Jamaica
  • Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

Good morning.

I thank the National Road Safety Council for this invitation to address this gathering as the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Jamaica.

Today, as Jamaica joins the global family of nations to observe the Fourth United Nations Global Road Safety Week, we are privileged to have with us Jean Todt, President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile and Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for Road Safety. Mr. Todt’s mandate is to mobilize sustained political commitment, general awareness, positive road behaviours and funding. His presence here today signals the United Nations’ support for Jamaica’s efforts to achieve road safety for all Jamaicans.

Multiple United Nations entities help our member states improve road safety. I can only mention a few. The UN Economic Commission for Europe supports the work of the Special Envoy. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights defends our rights to life, personal safety and health. UNICEF promotes children’s right to a safe journey to school. UNEP looks at vehicles’ impact on the environment. UNDP integrates transportation into national development planning, including through improved legislation.

The World Health Organization looks at the health implications of road accidents and leads the UN Global Road Safety Week.

Change is desperately needed. Across the globe, on this sixth year of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, over 3 000 people still die on the roads every day – 1.25 million a year – and 50 million are disabled or seriously injured every year, taken disproportionately from among the most vulnerable, children, pedestrians, cyclists and older people, and particularly from poorer countries. Road crashes is the number 1 killer for people between the ages of 15 and 29. Although low- and middle-income countries account for only 50% of vehicles registered worldwide, they record 90% of all fatalities.

The tragedy on our roads burdens the health system, the infrastructure and the economy. Here in Jamaica, a report from the Ministry of Health recently outlined the massive burden on surgical capacities caused by road-related injuries. In medical costs and lost productivity, road fatalities and injuries can cost a country up to 5% of its gross domestic product. Global losses reach $500 billion dollars.   

Road fatalities in Jamaica declined in 2016 – from 382 in 2015 to 377 in 2016 – and still seem headed down. Still, far too many persons die on our roads, and excessive speed is often the cause of the accident. The theme of this year’s campaign encourages a comprehensive approach to managing and not simply reducing speed that employs multiple measures, including setting and enforcing appropriate laws, modifying roadways and adapting vehicles. But let us be clear, reducing speed in itself matters tremendously. A 5% cut in average speed can reduce fatal road traffic crashes by 30%.

Road traffic deaths are preventable. Target 6 under Sustainable Development Goal 3 relating to good health commits all countries to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020 from 2010 levels. Jamaica has made a modest start towards this global target.          

Road safety demands the attention of the most senior levels in government. We applaud the Prime Minister’s championing of this cause. We urge Jamaica to accede to the six United Nations inland transport-related conventions which serve as a legal framework for preventing death and disability from road traffic crashes; to enact or strengthen laws governing speed, drink driving, motorcycle helmet, seat belt and child restraint use; to ensure that all cars meet minimum safety regulations; and to enforce traffic-related laws and regulations strictly.

Under Sustainable Development Goal 11 relating to Sustainable Cities and Communities, all countries have undertaken to provide by 2030 access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all. Discussions to this end should aim to see the concept of safe cities and privileging public over private transportation reflected into national development plans as a medium- to long-term solution.

Above all, safer behaviours must be pursued by all road users. Motorists, and passengers, do wear your seat belts and bikers your helmets, and do ask a sober friend to drive if you’ve had one drink too many. Put away your mobile phones when driving. Let them ring if they must. No phone call is more important than arriving safely at your destination. Keep your vehicle in good condition with all safety systems operational. And slow down. Slowing down matters. It can literally mean the difference between life and death. Cyclists, make yourselves glow on the road. Pedestrians, watch where you step. And whether you drive, ride a bike, cycle or walk, join in the conversations this week, make your voice heard.

In closing, I want to recognize the invaluable leadership of the Most Hon. Prime Minister; the commitment of the National Road Safety Council which brought us here together; the contributions of the concerned ministries and the Hon. Ministers themselves; the interest of many private-sector organizations and the engagement of individuals such as Yohann Blake, as well as of civil society organizations including churches. On our side, I pledge the continuing support of the United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes, each in their area of expertise, to work with Jamaica and reduce the scourge of road traffic accidents.

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