Ten Years Toward Zero Deaths – Decade of Action Launches Worldwide

Everyone knows that traffic crashes kill tens of thousands of people each year in the United States, most of which could easily be prevented. A recent Foundation survey found that even amidst the calls for smaller government and decreased budgets, Americans are supportive of government involvement when it comes to improving roadway safety. And while the number of US traffic fatalities has declined in recent years, traffic safety remains a major health issue both in US and around the world. Have you ever stopped to think about how many people around the world die in traffic accidents each year?

Every six seconds someone somewhere is killed or injured on the world’s roads. Road traffic accidents are among the top ten causes of death around the world, claiming 1.3 million lives every year—that’s three times the total number of traffic deaths in the U.S. over the past 10 years (411,574 fatalities from 2000-2009). The younger you are, the higher your odds—the number one cause of death among young people worldwide is roadway accidents.

That’s why the United Nations is launching the Decade of Action for Road Safety with the goal of stabilizing and then reducing global road deaths by 2020. Today, May 11, 2011, events are taking place on every continent to kickoff this worldwide initiative. Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and CDC Director Thomas Freiden will join the ranks by voicing their support at a press conference on Capitol Hill this morning, reaffirming the need for all of the nation’s highway safety agencies to adopt “Toward Zero Death” goals over the next 10 years.

But this isn’t just about lowering the number of lives lost on roads around the world. This is about a universal change in safety culture. This is about communities, cities, towns and countries working together to make our roads safer, to protect one another. We must go beyond single-solution thinking toward more strategic, broader reaching goals. There is a need to place a higher value on human life as you travel, be it your own, your neighbor’s, your family member’s or someone you’ve never even met.  These are issues the Foundation continues to highlight with our annual safety culture survey and through discussion within the transportation community at events like the Traffic Safety Culture Summit. This is about taking a pledge over the next decade to elevate road safety to the upper echelons of global causes.

Where will you be in 10 years?  Hard to say, but the better question is how safe will your roads be? Act now.