ADDIS ABABA, May 8 (Xinhua) -- Amid the commemoration of the UN Global Road Safety Week, African countries on Wednesday were urged to reduce by half the rate of road traffic accident-induced deaths and injuries to achieve the global target.
The call was made by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on the margins of the 5th UN Global Road Safety Week, which is being commemorated from May 6 to 12 under the theme "Leadership for Road Safety."
The ECA, which stressed that "strong leadership is needed at national and local levels if Africa and the rest of the world to attain road safety," said in a statement on Wednesday that "halving the number of global deaths and injuries will help countries achieve the sustainable development goals."
According to the ECA, Goal 3.6 of the global Agenda of the SDGs calls on governments to take new steps to reduce road traffic fatalities.
"Addressing these issues requires strong leadership, which is why the theme of the 2019 UN Road Safety Week, Leadership for Road Safety, is apt," the statement quoted Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the ECA, as saying.
The UN Global Road Safety Week campaign mainly seeks to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents by 2020.
The campaign, which envisaged to stabilize and reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths around the world, falls under the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011 to 2020 that was officially proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in March 2010, it was noted.
According to the ECA, Decade of Action seeks to prevent road traffic deaths and injuries, which experts project will take the lives of 1.9 million people annually by 2020.
The plan, which outlined steps towards improving the safety of roads and vehicles, also aims to enhance emergency services, and enhancing road safety management. It also calls for increased legislation and enforcement on speeding.
Noting that the risk of a road traffic death remains three times higher in low-income countries than in high-income countries, ECA indicated that Africa accounts for the highest rate of road traffic deaths at 26.6 per 100,000 people.
On Monday, the ECA chief also stressed that many of African countries "have inadequate institutional arrangements, finance, and data to deal with the carnage on our roads."
"It is unacceptable that the risk of death from road traffic accidents in Africa is as high as 26.6 per 100,000 as compared to 17.0 in South-East Asia and 9.3 in Europe," Songwe said.
"These are staggering figures, and the goal of the UN Global Road Safety Week is to generate a demand from the public for stronger leadership for road safety worldwide," she added.
Out of the total 1.3 million road traffic fatalities that occurred every year globally, more than half are accounted in urban areas, according to figures from the ECA.
Africa, having only 2 percent of the world's registered vehicles, accounts for a disproportionate 16 percent of the world's road traffic deaths.
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 in Africa and beyond.
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.