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Global Road Safety Campaign Gets Underway


The U.N. Economic Commission for Europe and the International Basketball Federation are launching a global road safety campaign to reduce traffic crashes. Some Basketball super stars will be used to spread the safe driving message.

Basketball star Jose Calderon aims his life-saving message especially at young people who are at high risk of death and disability from road accidents.

U.N. Economic Commission for Europe Executive Secretary Jan Kubis says this is a major problem, and one that is growing in all regions around the world.

"Every year, around 1.3 million people die as a result of road accidents," said Kubis. "It means some 3,500 deaths per day."

The United Nations reports road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young people aged between five and 29. In addition, it finds between 20 to 50million people are injured every year. Many become severely disabled.

The World Bank estimates road accidents cost four percent of GDP worldwide.

UNECE Director of the Transport Division, Eva Molnar, says more than half of the casualties resulting from road accidents are pedestrians, cyclists or other road users not traveling in a car.

"In Africa, pedestrians, particularly women who take their merchandise to the market every day and who are destined to walk several hours a day-three, four hours to the market-three, four hours back from the market home, they are the most vulnerable road users," said Molnar. "So, emphasis should be put on these road users. Or in Asia and in many other countries where there are two-wheelers, three-wheelers."

The launch of this global road safety campaign coincides with the Basketball World Championship Games, which will be held in Turkey from August 28 to September 12.

The Secretary-General of the International Basketball Federation, Patrick Baumann, says many promising or established basketball players have lost their lives in road accidents. He says this is a needless, shocking and tragic loss of life, which needs to be tackled urgently.

"It is our duty, therefore, on one hand to educate the parents that drive all these young kids to their games, to try to make sure that they drive safely, abide by the rules and also to those stars that are becoming stars or starts that do not think that because they are invincible on the court that they can be also invincible outside, and that they will never be affected by anything like an accident," said Baumann.

Baumann says all the basketball teams participating in the World Championship games will sign a declaration committing them selves to play and drive by the rules.

He says the safe driving message will be heard and seen by the millions of people who will be attending the games and watching them on TV broadcasts in over 180 countries.

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