Global road safety crisis - Statement of Iceland
The Permanent Mission of Iceland
to the United Nations
H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir
GA 68 – Plenary Meeting
Item 12 (b): Global road safety crisis
10 April 2014
Road Safety is important for all States alike and Iceland is pleased to have cosponsored the resolution again this year. We are now in the fourth year of the Decade of Action for Road Safety. We have set ambitious goals to improve road safety, thereby preventing serious life-altering injuries and the loss of lives, aside from the economic costs involved with traffic accidents.
The resolution builds upon the action already taken by the various regional and international agencies to commend the progress made and suggest improvements where needed.
I am pleased to note that the prevention and safety efforts in Iceland have resulted in a significant decrease in road traffic fatalities and injuries. A national road safety plan has been in place since 2005 and the progress is evident. The most effective measures to date include legislative action targeted at young drivers, special emphasis on enforcing speed limits, road risk mapping and targeted prevention campaigns, including against the use of mobile phones while driving. Based on the Decade of Action, further areas for improvement have been identified for possible inclusion in the national plan.
As Iceland has managed to decrease the actual number of fatalities, the progress at the International level has been in terms of proportions: Fatalities have remained the same even as the number of vehicles has increased by 15% from 2007-2010. But more needs to be done if we are to achieve our target.
We also need to focus on survivors of traffic accidents who are often left with serious, long-lasting injuries. In particular, my Government is committed to raising awareness of spinal cord injuries, which are given a special mention in the resolution before us. Traffic accidents cause almost half of all spinal cord injuries. It is estimated that between 4 and 5 million people around the world now live with spinal cord injuries and most of those are between the ages of 20-40.
The Government of Iceland has supported the Institute of Spinal Cord Injury in Iceland in its work towards alleviating the suffering of those living with spinal cord injury. The institute aims to raise awareness and collect information on innovative treatments for spinal cord injuries. This initiative has received support from the Nordic Council which has agreed to organize a joint project to search for an effective remedy for spinal cord injuries.
We encourage Member States, as a part of their national efforts, to take similar steps to increase knowledge of serious injuries caused by traffic accidents and try to find ways to more effectively treat or even cure them. We additionally stand ready to share our knowledge with all those interested through our national Road Safety Directorate and the Institute of Spinal Cord Injury in Iceland.
Finally, we would like to thank Oman for originally placing road safety on the agenda of the United Nations and the Russian Federation for continuing to promote collective efforts to ensure the safety and needs of all road users. We know firsthand that real results can be made in saving lives and alleviate the suffering of those left behind with serious injuries.
I thank you, Mr./Madame President