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CEO Perspective

Why Road Safety is a Critical Public Health Issue: José Luis Castro on the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety

Statement on the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety declared at the U.N. General Assembly

Every year, more than 1.35 million people lose their lives on the world’s roads, with up to 50 million more injured. It is a public health issue that is stealing our future, claiming the lives of more young adults than almost any other. We applaud the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) declaration of 2021-2030 as the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety, with the ambitious goal of halving traffic deaths and injuries. We join the call for governments to address road safety as a critical public health issue—not simply a transportation issue. The new Decade of Action for Road Safety will bring greater focus to the issue, and encourage the multisectoral collaboration needed to achieve a drastic reduction in traffic crashes.

Traffic safety is also a development issue, costing some countries up to 5% of their GDP, and exacerbated by economic disparities; 90% of the world’s road deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Traffic fatalities should not be an accepted consequence of development. Road safety demands urgent action by all governments. 

We know that progress against road injury and death is possible in every country and context. Since 2010, Vital Strategies has partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies and international partners to save lives on the world’s roads through the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety, later including city governments through the Partnership for Healthy Cities. Over this period, we have seen time and again that political will, collaboration and evidence-driven solutions can reduce the tragic toll of road crashes.

About Vital Strategies’ Road Safety Program

Vital Strategies is an implementing partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), supporting governments in carrying out proven road safety interventions around the world. We use our expertise to help cities strengthen road crash data systems, and then use that data to inform policy and action. We guide the creation of strategic communication and mass media campaigns to change road user behavior. Finally, we serve as the main liaison among the initiative’s multiple global partners, governments, and city agencies to align efforts in implementing policy, infrastructure, enforcement, communication and surveillance programs.

For more information on Vital Strategies’ work in road safety, please visit: