|Statement by Ambassador Zhang Yishan, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations at the 58th Session of the General Assembly on Agenda item 160 "Global Road Safety"|
|(14 April 2004)|
In celebration of World Health Day this year, the World Health Organization and the World Bank have published the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. The Chinese delegation would like to avail itself of this opportunity to convey its heartfelt thanks to the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the experts from various countries for preparing this report. We believe that the recommendations for improvement put forward in the report could serve as an important basis for all governments in seeking better road traffic safety.
At present, the situation of global road safety is very grave. Worldwide, an estimated 1.2 million people are killed in road accidents each year and 50 million are injured, resulting in a direct economic loss of more than US$ 500 billion. It is projected that by 2020, traffic death toll will reach 2.34 million, and traffic injuries will become the third leading contributor to the global burden of disease and injury, well ahead of AIDS, tuberculosis, lower respiratory tract infection and other diseases. It is worth mentioning that 90% of all traffic injury accidents happen in the low-income and middle-income countries, and the percentage is still increasing. These facts demonstrate amply that traffic injuries have become an increasingly serious public health problem. If effective preventive actions are not taken, traffic injuries will lead to even more serious economic and social consequences to all countries, especially the developing countries.
As is pointed out in the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, road safety is not simply a question of accidents. Traffic injuries can be prevented and controlled by means of rational analysis and appropriate measures. To that end, all governments should shoulder the primary responsibility, with the business, health, education and media sectors as well as non-governmental organizations joining hands in a common effort. We support the close cooperation among the General Assembly of the United Nations, all the regional Economic and Social Commissions, the World Health Organization and the World Bank in continuing to pay close and greater attention to this problem. It is our belief that with concerted efforts by the international community, the goal of reducing global road traffic injuries will be achieved.
China is a developing country with 1.3 billion people. It is also faced with a grave situation in road traffic safety. From 2001 to 2003, traffic death toll in China exceeded 100,000 each year, with injuries averaging over 500,000 and economic losses of about RMB 3 billion (equivalent to more than US$ 300 million) annually. A lack of safety awareness on the part of drivers, poor road conditions and traffic environments, and inadequate management standards are the major causes of traffic injuries.
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the work on road traffic safety. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council have repeatedly given important instructions to firmly reverse the trend of increasing road accidents. The State Council has asserted that it is a goal of the current government to reduce traffic injury accidents significantly from the current high rate, bring it basically under control, and reduce it year by year hereafter. In order to achieve this goal, the State
Council established last year an inter-ministerial joint-session mechanism
for road traffic safety, with the Ministry of Public Security as the lead department and the participation of 15 governmental bodies, to coordinate and plan the work of road traffic safety.
Last October, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted the Road Traffic Safety Act. The primary purpose of this law is to protect the safety of people. Taking full consideration of the many risk factors in road traffic, this law codifies the various preventative measures in legal terms, in particular with clear provisions for the safety of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians. The law will enter into force on May 1 this year. We are sure that it will play an important role in improving road traffic safety and preventing traffic injuries.
Thank you, Mr. President.