GENEVA, � A new report from WHO, "Managing speed," suggests that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to 1 in 3 road traffic fatalities worldwide.

It suggests measures to address speed prevent road traffic deaths and injuries, make populations healthier, and cities more sustainable.

Around 1.25 million people die every year on the world's roads. Studies indicate that typically 40 to 50 percent of drivers go over the posted speed limits. Drivers who are male, young and under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in speed-related crashes. Road traffic crashes remain the number one cause of death among young people aged 15 to 29 years. They are estimated to cost countries from 3 to 5 percent of GDP and push many families into poverty.

Yet, only 47 countries in the world follow good practice on one of the main speed management measures, namely implementing an urban speed limit of 50 km/h or less and allowing local authorities to further reduce these limits around schools, residences and businesses.

"Speed is at the core of the global road traffic injury problem," notes WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. "If countries were to address just this key risk, they would soon reap the rewards of safer roads, both in terms of lives saved and increases in walking and cycling, with profound and lasting effects on health."

Speed management measures include building or modifying roads to include features that calm traffic, such as roundabouts and speed bumps, establishing appropriate speed limits, enforcing speed limits through manual and automated controls, installing in-vehicle technologies in new cars, such as intelligent speed assistance and autonomous emergency braking, and raising awareness about the dangers of speeding.

Road traffic fatality rates are nearly three times lower in Europe compared to Africa. Countries that have had the most success in drastically reducing rates of road traffic death and injury in recent decades � Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, among them � are those that have addressed the issue holistically.

Within countries, municipal leaders have greatly contributed to a growing movement � often instigated at local level � to transform cities into more liveable places for all. By reducing speed and improving safety, their populations benefit from the added advantages of increased walking and cycling, and reductions in air and noise pollution.

"Managing speed" was released in advance of the Fourth UN Global Road Safety Week, 8th to 14th May. The week and its related campaign, "Save Lives: #SlowDown," draw attention to the dangers of speed and the measures which should be put in place to address this leading risk for road traffic deaths and injuries.

The UN Week is a unique advocacy opportunity that contributes to achieving of the road safety-related Sustainable Development Goal targets 3.6 and 11.2. During the UN Week, WHO will also release Save LIVES: a road safety technical package.

Source: Emirates News Agency