Multilateral development banks launch initiative to promote road safety

13:14, April 20, 2011      

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Actress Michelle Yeoh (L), Global Ambassador of the Make Roads Safe Campaign, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attend a ceremony to launch the multilateral development bank road safety initiative at the World Bank Headquarters in Washington D.C., capital of the United States, April 19, 2011. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

Seven multilateral development banks (MDB) announced on Tuesday at the World Bank headquarters a joint initiative to improve road safety and stem rising road deaths and injuries in developing countries, and meet targets of the United Nations (UN) Decade for Road Safety 2011-2020.

The initiative calls for an integrated safe system approach which promotes shared responsibility for ensuring safe mobility, and starts with countries naming a lead agency to direct a national road safety strategy.

Road accidents have become the leading cause of death for young people aged 5 to 29, with 1.3 million people killed and up to 50 million injured every year in road crashes, 90 percent of them in developing countries.

"In developed countries, road fatalities are going down but in developing countries they are surging because of increased road building, motor vehicles and dangerous traffic mixes that pit vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, against a growing tide of cars and trucks," said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick at the launch ceremony.

Zoellick urged countries to invest in road safety and called on donors to provide funds through the new initiative. "Both financing and capacity-building in developing countries are needed to meet the goals of the UN Decade." The goal is to reduce the forecast 2020 level of road deaths by 50 percent from 1.9 million to under one million a year.

The leaders of the MDB's Road Safety Initiative are committed to building partnerships and raising funds from governments, the private sector and voluntary organizations to support projects in developing countries.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is a committed advocate and donor to road safety issues, said that improving road safely has become a global challenge. "It's our responsibility to save millions of lives."

Famous actress Michelle Yeoh, Global Ambassador of the Make Roads Safe Campaign, called for real actions in improving road safety. "Everyone has its role in road safety from enforcement to implementation."

The partners of MDB's Road Safety Initiative include the Inter- American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, and the World Bank.
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