NEW DELHI: The
World Health Organisation
(WHO) on Monday evening launched a week-long “Street for Life” campaign across countries to pursue policy makers to limit traffic speed in cities to 30 kmph where people “live, work and play” as there is high conflict among different road users.
The theme of the campaign of the UN Global Road Safety Week is based on the Stockholm Declaration of 2020 which called for low-speed streets based on studies from cities such as Graz in Austria, London; New York and Toronto which indicated that 30 kmph speed limits and zones yielded reductions in road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths. “Evidence shows that 30 kmph streets where people mix with traffic not only save lives, but also promote walking, cycling and a move towards zero-carbon mobility,” the WHO said.
Different studies in India have found that there are more than 40 types of road users here and no segregation of traffic makes the Indian roads more prone to crashes.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign,
UN General Assembly
said, “Managing speed is among the most practical and efficient solutions to saving lives and with minimal cost.” He highlighted how during the pandemic pedestrians in urban centres have reclaimed the roads and he added that reducing speed of vehicles in urban centres not only saves lives but makes the cities more inviting and accessible to all.
He said he is working with member states to prepare a high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly in 2022 for the effective implementation of the global plan Decade of Action. The member countries have agreed to reduce the road deaths by 50% by 2030.
This goal can be achieved only when countries like India, China, Bangladesh and Mexico succeed to reduce fatalities.
Every year, more than 13 lakh people die in road traffic crashes and at least one death out of every 10 killed in road crashes globally is reported from India. According to the WHO, excessive speed is at the core of the road traffic injury problem, with one in three deaths on the roads in high-income countries attributed to speed. It is estimated that 40-50% of people drive above the speed limit, with every 1 kmph increase in speed resulting in a 4-5% increase in fatal crashes. The risk of death and injury reduces considerably when speeds are lowered.
WHO director general Dr
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
said low-speed streets are an important part of the vision for creating safe, healthy, green and livable cities. He added, “As the world recovers and rebuilds from COVID-19, let’s make safer roads for a safer world.”
Zoleka Mandela, global ambassador for the Child Health Initiative and granddaughter of late South African President
, said roads are for people and not for vehicles. “We want low speed; we want livable streets so that we can walk safely and our children can get to school unharmed. Streets have been built for traffic and not for people. As a mother I believe our children are a priority. Why aren’t we doing enough so that they can get to school safely?”
She said in the name of development governments are investing on roads to speed up the traffic and people are paying with their lives. “Slow the traffic, help people to walk and cycle safely,” she urged policy makers. Zoleka lost her 13-year-old daughter, Zenani, in a road traffic crash in South Africa in 2010.
, director of the Department of Social Determinants of Health at WHO said, “Low-speed streets are the heart of every community. I call on authorities to reduce urban speed limits to 30 kmph where pedestrians and cyclists mix with other traffic, as a step towards giving streets back to people and ensuring those streets are protective of health and the environment. Low-speed streets are streets for life.”