SOURCE: Make Roads Safe

Make Roads Safe

October 15, 2009 13:15 ET

Actress Michelle Yeoh Urges Congress to Join Worldwide Action to Stop Road Death Epidemic

5 Million Lives at Stake Says Report; Top Threat to Humanitarian Workers; US Organizations Join in Urging "Decade of Action"

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - October 15, 2009) - Five million lives could be saved and 50 million serious injuries prevented over the next ten years, according to a report presented to Members of Congress today by international road safety experts. But to do so, world leaders must launch a "Decade of Action" to combat the growing global road death crisis.

Actress and Make Roads Safe Campaign ambassador Michelle Yeoh urged Members of Congress to join efforts to combat the world's fastest-growing and most neglected public health emergency.

Yeoh, best known for her roles in the Hollywood hits "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Tomorrow Never Dies," and "Memoirs of a Geisha," urged the US government to play a leading role at next month's first-ever UN Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Moscow. "The US has made progress on road safety, but of course much more needs to be done," Yeoh said. "The United States can be a world leader on road safety, to save lives both at home and abroad in a Decade of Action."

"Having traveled to Africa, Asia, and Latin America to see the world's dangerous roads," Yeoh added, "I am known for my action movies and doing my own stunts, but some of my most frightening moments have been crossing a dangerous road with children who are just trying to get to school. We must act now to save our children."

And for Yeoh's colleagues -- humanitarian relief workers -- the perception may be that war, terrorism or disease are their greatest danger, but in fact road crashes are the leading cause of death on the job. John Schafer, Security Director at InterAction (an alliance of more than 180 relief and development agencies), says, "I've worked in some of the most dangerous places in the world -- Darfur, Georgia and Pakistan -- so I know the dangers that come from conflict. But the hidden threat is a dangerous road that kills both relief workers and the people they serve."

According to the Decade of Action report, road crashes are on course to become the leading cause of disability and premature death for children in developing countries aged 5-14 by the year 2015. A total of 1.3 million people die annually in road traffic crashes, the report says, and this figure is set to rise to almost 2 million by 2020. Road crashes have already overtaken malaria and tuberculosis as a major killer in developing countries.

Calling for a Decade of Action for Road Safety, Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) said, "Every year, road travel results in the deaths of 1.3 million people. This is the equivalent of ten jumbo jets crashing every day. If those jumbo jets were crashing, you can bet there'd be action. In fact, many of these tragic deaths could be prevented by collaborative efforts between the United States, foreign governments, and international organizations aimed at raising road standards and preventing traffic injuries."

The US House of Representatives, bolstered by the support of a wide array of public health organizations, universities, and NGOs, recently unanimously backed the proposed "Decade of Action" in a resolution (House Concurrent Resolution 74) on global road safety sponsored by Congressman Wexler and his colleagues in the Congressional Caucus on Global Road Safety.

The Decade of Action report urges nations to support a global push to reduce the predicted level of road fatalities by 50 percent by 2020. The report suggests that an investment of $300 million by the international community between 2010 and 2020 can achieve this goal.

Among the proposals laid out in the report to combat the rise in road crash deaths are calls to improve road infrastructure, implement good practice vehicle standards, launch global cooperation programs in neglected areas, and improve post crash medical care.

The Make Roads Safe Campaign for Global Road Safety is a global coalition of public health bodies, humanitarian relief agencies, universities, auto clubs, transportation organizations, and other international groups. U.S. Members include AASHTO, APHA, APTA, AAA, AAA Foundation, ASIRT, KKAD, GHSA, ITE, MADD, NOYS, Operation Lifesaver, Roadway Safety Foundation, SADD, TTI, and many other state and local organizations.

Website: www.makeroadssafe.org (see Coalition for complete list of members)

Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:
    Dr. Bella Dinh-Zarr
    Make Roads Safe North American Director
    202-701-5656

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