UN Welcomes Russian Road Safety Offer

The United Nations General Assembly urged stepped-up global efforts to reduce the 1.2 million annual deaths on the world's roads and welcomed Russia's offer to host the first-ever ministerial meeting on road safety next year.

A resolution adopted by consensus at the end of a day-long meeting Monday encouraged the 192 UN member states to continue to strengthen their commitment to road safety and to participate in UN projects to curb road deaths, especially in developing countries.

The resolution welcomed Russia's offer to host "and provide the necessary financial support for the first global high-level [ministerial] conference on road safety, to be held in 2009."

Victor Kiryanov, head of the Interior Ministry's road safety department, said the 2009 conference would focus on the progress of countries in implementing measures to improve road safety and reduce injuries, and on determining ways to step up international cooperation.

He noted that "each year, the costs associated with road traffic injuries in the world amount to hundreds of billions of dollars, and they continue to increase."

Reducing road traffic deaths, Kiryanov said, is a key condition for economic development and so ordinary people feel safe and secure on the roads.

Russia has one of the worst road-fatalities records in Europe, with 30,000 to 35,000 people dying every year. Last year 33,300 people died in traffic accidents, and another 300,000 suffered injuries, according to Interior Ministry statistics. (AP, MT)