The 7th UN Global Road Safety Week, taking place from 15-21 May 2023, is centered on the theme of sustainable transport. The primary aim is to urge a global shift towards walking, cycling, and the use of public transport, as these are critical measures to diminish the number of injuries and deaths triggered by road traffic annually. This push for change is powered by the startling statistics that indicate road traffic injuries as a leading cause of death and injury , resulting in around 1.3 million fatalities and injuring as many as 50 million people each year. People aged 5-29 years are the most affected demographic.
The week’s hashtag, #RethinkMobility, implores policymakers to enhance the safety and of walking, cycling, and public transport. This could involve designing safer pedestrian crossings, creating separate bike lanes, improving public transport networks, and implementing traffic calming measures in residential areas. When these modes of transport are safe and accessible, they can significantly contribute to healthier individuals, sustainable cities, and more equitable societies.
Moreover, sustainable transport also brings considerable economic benefits. For instance, it can help reduce traffic congestion, decrease air pollution levels, and result in significant fuel cost savings. This creates the premises to improve the quality of life in cities and towns, making them more livable and economically vibrant.
It’s also important to recognize the unique challenges faced by different regions and populations. Road traffic injuries tend to be more prevalent in low-income countries, where infrastructure and safety measures may be lacking. Certain groups, such as children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, may also face heightened risks. Acknowledging these factors can help in designing more targeted and effective interventions.
Various events are being held during the UN Global Road Safety Week, including a #RethinkMobility Twitterstorm on 17 May 2023 and a dialogue with Ministers from Chile and Tunisia discussing how they are rethinking mobility in their countries.
These activities are part of the broader “Global Plan of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030”, which aspires to decrease road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. The plan advocates for a holistic approach to transportation, emphasizing the need for safer roads, vehicles, and behaviors, and the importance of improved emergency care1.