UN chief calls for global action against mobile phone use while driving

08:32, May 20, 2010      

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"Together we have a message to all drivers of the world -- don't let using a mobile for a few seconds make you and others immobile for life," UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.

"We are seeing a major emerging challenge of driver distraction, mainly by using mobile phones," Ban said here in the UN's global launch to address the growing epidemic of distracted driving.

"Studies indicate that using a mobile phone increases the risk of a crash by about four times and yet in some countries, up to 90 percent of people use mobile phones while driving," Ban said.

Ban called for a "culture of road safety," in which driving while distracted on the phone or text message is unacceptable, he said.

"Unacceptable in the eyes of the law and the public," Ban said. "I want every driver in the world to get the message -- texting while driving kills."

The UN is leading by example for road safety by prohibiting all drivers of UN vehicles to text message while driving, Ban said.

Joining Ban at the global launch, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and president for advocacy group Focus Driven, called for united efforts in this crisis that is preventable.

"We're here today to shine a spotlight on a problem that affects us all," Rice said. "Texting while driving isn't a harmless habit, it's a killer."

In 2008, nearly 6,000 people in the U.S. were killed and more than a half a million were injured in crashes involving distracted driving, Rice said.

The UN General Assembly in March adopted a resolution to proclaim the next 10 years as the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety, hoping to prevent more people from being killed in road accidents around the world.

The resolution called on member states to declare 2011-2020 the "Decade of Action for Road Safety." Its goal is to halt or reverse the increasing trend in road traffic deaths and injuries around the world.



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