Wednesday, November 18, 2015 | Brasilia, Brazil
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
and Head of the United States Delegation
November 18, 2015
The United States is an active supporter of the United Nations Decade of Action for Global Road Safety. I am pleased to be with you today along with my U.S. Government colleagues to mark the mid-point of the Decade, take stock of our progress and plan our lifesaving road safety work for the coming years.
I want to congratulate the representatives from nations around the world that have taken the opportunity of the Decade of Action to improve road safety at home or by assisting others. The Decade has motivated widespread efforts to collect data, implement programs or infrastructure improvements, enact laws or educate citizens to reduce the risks of road traffic injury or death. Your work is making a difference in the lives of the people you serve. Our special gratitude goes to the many nations that have reached beyond their own borders to offer their own experience and expertise to assist other nations which may be in need of guidance.
The 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety recently released by the World Health Organization indicates that road deaths have stabilized at about 1.25 million per year despite increases in motorization and population. This could be a first sign of progress and may reflect the fact that 17 nations have upgraded their laws according to best practices. However we have a formidable challenge in front of us and much work remains to be done before road safety is no longer a leading cause of death and injury worldwide.
In the United States we have had some success in reducing the risk of death and injury on the roadway and our experience indicates that lasting changes in road safety require long term commitment. Significant enduring improvements in road safety require changes in vehicles, roadways, and road user behaviors and involve the support of public safety officials, public health professionals and government leaders. Improvements are needed in data collection, analysis, education, engineering, laws and enforcement. Change is also needed in the rescue and care of victims at the scene of a crash, transport of the injured to hospitals, implementation of trauma care guidelines and application of modern rehabilitation strategies.
The United States found that such widespread change required several decades of effort and entailed adjustments in social norms, attitudes and community expectations. We are encouraged by the global road safety progress reported by the World Health Organization during the first years of the Decade of Action. The challenge of the Decade is daunting, but we must keep in mind that this is just the beginning of our commitment. The effort invested by nations around the globe over the past five years, and indeed the work to come during the remainder of the Decade, will succeed in building a foundation for change. To make progress toward the inter-connected Sustainable Development Goals for health, road safety, cities and partnership, we must build on this foundation and create momentum that will carry us to 2030 and into the years beyond.
We gather here today under the leadership of the Republic of Brazil. The United States expresses its appreciation for this Nation's vision and generosity in hosting this critically important conference. I am especially impressed by the number of nations coming together on this occasion. The strength of this global road safety movement is in the diversity of its supporters. Each of our nations is at a different point in addressing the road safety problem and together we hold a vast resource of knowledge and experience that can be used to identify problems and create solutions for our communities. Each of us has a global neighbor they can learn from and others to whom they could offer guidance.
Today, we have the opportunity to utilize this international cooperation to take actions to prevent safety risks such as drunk or drugged driving and speeding and to promote safe behaviors such as motorcycle helmet use, safe pedestrian and bicycle practices, seat belt use, and child passenger protection. We also have the opportunity to combine our efforts to further the potential of technology for reducing opportunities for human error and to consider the far-reaching implications of urban planning for reducing traffic volumes, speeds and risk.
The range of government agencies represented in our U.S. delegation reflects our nation’s profound and widespread commitment to global road safety. I am pleased to be joined here today at this important event by colleagues from the United States Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Human Services, its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of State, and the National Transportation Safety Board. Together we thank the organizers of this Second Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety and offer our best wishes for the outcome of this gathering. Our work here together will help assure we meet the goals set forth in the Decade of Action.