Every year, 1.3 million people die in road accidents and 50 million more are injured, he said, making this the leading cause of death for children and young people.
The UN chief’s remarks came in his message to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, observed annually on 20 November.
“One of the best ways to remember and honour the victims is by doing our part to make roads safer around the world”, he said.
Development in danger
The Secretary-General also pointed out how road traffic crashes are linked to development.
Nine out of 10 victims are in middle- and low-income countries.
“Saving more lives requires ensuring more funding for safe and sustainable mobility, whole-of-society action plans and a strong prevention approach,” said Mr. Guterres.
“The United Nations Road Safety Conventions and Fund help countries strengthen national systems and infrastructure. I urge Member States and donors to support these efforts and prevent further tragedies.”
Saving young lives
Meanwhile, a UN-backed global campaign aims to prevent more boys and girls from dying in traffic accidents.
One person dies on the road every 24 seconds across the world, while 500 children die on roads globally every 24 hours, according to the UN Road Safety Fund (UNRSF), announcing the second edition of the #moments2live4 campaign.
It was launched on Sunday, which also marked World Children’s Day in addition to the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
Poorer nations affected
UNRSF is a global partnership striving to help halve road deaths and injuries in low- and middle-income countries, where a staggering 93 per cent of fatal crashes occur each year.
The Fund has worked towards the adoption of region-wide safer vehicle regulations in West Africa, as well as initiatives on the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, among other activities.
The #moments2live4 campaign seeks to raise awareness about the global road safety crisis, which is hitting children over five the hardest, and to support the Fund’s $40 million replenishment target.
Awareness and empowerment
Nneka Henry, the UNRSF Head, emphasized that awareness is the first step towards addressing the global road safety challenge.
“Billions of everyday road users, thousands of corporations and over 100 governments currently sit on the side lines of inaction, largely unaware of the far-reaching dangers for our most vulnerable road users – our children. This campaign is intended to empower everyone with knowledge about how to help keep children safe on the roads,” she said.
The #moments2live4 global campaign will feature supporters, ranging from race car drivers, entertainers, world-class athletes, and leaders from UN agencies.
It will run for 10 weeks and conclude on the International Day of Education, on 24 January.