Blair joins call for UN road death action

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Tony Blair has joined the voices calling for a UN conference on global road deaths, which have been dubbed the "new disease of the young and poor".

The prime minister's appeal comes on the first day of the UN's inaugural global road safety week.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1,000 young people die on the world's roads every day, with 1.2 million people dying every year overall.

The problem exists in Britain too, with 1,422 children killed or maimed on roads in deprived areas during 2005, contributing to the statistic that traffic is the leading cause of death for young people aged between ten and 25.

In a video message supporting an RAC-led campaign accompanying the UN awareness week, Mr Blair says: "Every minute of every day a child is killed or seriously injured on the world's roads.

"Road crashes are the second leading cause of death for young men after HIV/Aids, and in some African countries more than 70 per cent of those killed on the roads are young breadwinners.

"It is becoming clear that road injury has a serious impact on the wider development goals we are all trying to achieve. So I commend the proposal that the UN should organise a global ministerial meeting on road safety."

Commenting on the Make Roads Safe campaign, seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher said: "A thousand young people under the age of 25 die every day on the roads. Road crashes kill on the scale of malaria or tuberculosis, yet the international community has not woken up to this horrific waste of life.

"That is why I strongly support the make roads safe campaign and the proposal that the United Nations organise a first ever UN ministerial conference to tackle this preventable loss of life."

Edmund King, the executive director of motor organisation RAC, and the coordinator of the Make Roads Safe campaign, added: "We must do more to make our roads safe at home and across the globe.

"Half of all children killed or seriously injured on the roads in England come from deprived areas and this is reflected in the fact that 90 per cent of those killed globally are from low and middle income countries."

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon will be among those attending the opening press conference of the UN global road safety week at the organisation's Geneva headquarters.

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