By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City (PNA photo by Ben Briones)

MANILA – The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, will visit the country from April 11 to 14 to advocate for the effective implementation of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030.

In a statement, the UN said the advocacy aims to reduce the number of victims of road crashes into half in seven years.

It noted that road traffic injuries are a leading cause of fatalities and life-long disabilities in Asia, with 58 percent of the world’s 1.3 million road deaths occurring in the Asia-Pacific region.

“South-East Asia is one of the regions of the world most affected by road crashes,” it said.
Southeast Asia has the second highest road traffic fatality rate of 20.7 per 100,000 population after Africa which is 26.6 per 100,000 population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Thailand and Malaysia are among the most vulnerable countries in the region with a fatality rate of 32.2 and 23.6 per 100,000 population, respectively.

The WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 shows an increasing trend in road traffic deaths in the Philippines, with a fatality rate of 12.3 per 100,000 population.

Rapid motorization in Southeast Asia is seen as one of the factors affecting the rise in road crashes, the UN said.

Thailand reports the highest rate of motorcycle-related deaths in the world while nearly 60 percent of all road traffic deaths in Malaysia are riders of motorcycles.

About 65 percent of road crash victims in the Philippines are motorcycle riders as reported by the Department of Health.

“Southeast Asia faces a tragedy on the roads. However, solutions exist, combining policy enforcement and education. Simple gestures can also save lives, such as wearing a seatbelt or a helmet, not driving under influence, not texting while driving, or reducing speed,” the UN said.

The UN Road Safety Fund supports projects on road safety in the Laos, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand which are aligned to the 12 UN Voluntary Global Road Safety Performance Targets.

Apart from the Philippines, Todt will also visit Lao PDR on April 5 to 7 April, Thailand on April 10, and Malaysia on April 17 to 19. (PNA)