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Geneva, 19 May 2015 (OPS/OMS) — It's no surprise that road safety, a huge health safety issue, is a priority of the post-2015 development agenda. Nearly 1.3 million people were killed worldwide on the roads last year, and more than 50 million were injured; of those deaths, 186,300 were children under 18 years old. In fact, road traffic injuries are the top killer of children aged 15-17 and are among the top four causes of death for children over 5. These are just some of the statistics from a 2014 study that were shared by Minister of Health Arthur Chioro of Brazil at last week's World Health Assembly side event "Preserving Lives: Progress in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020."

Halfway through the decade of action, progress has been slower than anticipated in 2011. The stated goal is to save 5 million lives by 2020.

Chioro chaired a panel of experts from the Russian Federation, South Africa, Thailand, the United States, and the IberoAmerican Federation of Associations of Victims against Traffic Violence. The newly appointed United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy for road safety also participated.

Mitchell Wolfe, deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Global Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), noted that the number of people killed on the road annually is higher than the number of deaths from HIV in several age groups. He said the United States is committed to cutting traffic accidents and deaths in half by 2030 by strengthening awareness, planning, and support for better driving. He acknowledged that traffic safety is a complex issue requiring a complex solution.

Brazil currently occupies fifth place in the world for deaths due to road accidents, with motorcycle riders being the most vulnerable—and the fastest growing—group. Between 2003 and 2013, the national motorcycle fleet increased by 247%, hospital admissions of motorcyclists increased 115%, and related costs rose 171%.

The road safety side event was organized in part to promote the Second Global High-Level Conference on Road Safety, which is scheduled to take place in Brasilia on November 18-19. This year's global event will be organized by the Government of Brazil, the United Nations, WHO/PAHO, and Friends of the Decade of Action. Delegates from 152 countries will be invited to evaluate the commitment of governments and institutions to advancing the goals of the Road Safety Decade.