ADDIS ABABA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said on Wednesday that the African continent is bearing the brunt of challenges attributed to road safety as an estimated over 300,000 people die due to road crashes every year.
Noting the African region having only 2 percent of the world's registered vehicles, the ECA disclosed that a disproportionate 16 percent of the world's road traffic deaths occurred in the region.
Road traffic fatalities are estimated to be the fourth leading cause of death of persons aged 5 through 44 years globally including the African continent, according to the ECA.
Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the ECA, highlighted that safety needs to be "built into" infrastructure investment, as this is far less costly than retrofitting roads afterwards to be safer.
The ECA, in partnership with other UN agencies, has also brought together over 100 participants representing nearly 20 African government ministries of Infrastructure and Transport, National Road Safety Authorities and Councils, African sub-regional and regional organizations, international organizations, academic and research institutions, and the private sector mainly to share experience in improving road safety with particular emphasis on urban mobility.
The workshop underscored the linkages between growing urbanization and expected rise in the number of road traffic fatalities in the region, according to the ECA.
According to the ECA, out of the total 1.3 million road traffic fatalities that occurred every year globally, more than half are accounted in urban areas.
"In the urban area, it is critical to address the safety of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, children and motorcyclists," the ECA stressed.
Quality of road infrastructure, level of law enforcement, safety of vehicles, road user behaviors and post-crash care are said to be among the issues that affect the road safety situation Africa and beyond.
Better integrating safe urban mobility within existing road safety frameworks and incorporating road safety into urban planning and infrastructure development process are also said to be the major targets of the gathering as part of the UN's initiative.
Experts and policymakers are mainly expected to share good practices, evidence-based solutions, progress and challenges, considering the UN road transport and road safety related legal instruments, in support of the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The ECA further stressed the need to collaborate among UN organs - the Secretariat of the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Road Safety, the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the Africa Transport Policy Program (SSATP), and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) -- to work with African governments to address the challenge of road safety and urban mobility, it was noted.
Reducing road fatalities is a specific target under target 3 of the global SDGs to improve health and wellbeing, and improving access to safe transport systems, while target 11 envisaged to ensure inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.