By 2020, 1.9 million people will die each year from auto accidents if world governments take no action. In response to this alarming statistic, the World Health Organization has begun the “Decade of Action for Road Safety”, a global initiative that brings world governments together to promote road safety from 2011 through 2020. The initiative plans to increase the safety of roads and automobiles, improve emergency services, and enforce more legislation for helmets, seatbelts, and child restraints. The Decade, as it has come to be known, also includes programs to prevent drinking and driving as well as speeding.
Famous international landmarks are being used to promote The Decade’s initiative, with a yellow road safety tag being projected on New York City’s Time Square, London’s Trafalgar Square, Geneva’s Jet d’Eau, and Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue. The Decade’s goals are to save five million lives and prevent 50 million auto accident injuries during the 10-year span. The U.S. has already donated $125 million to promote road safety in low to middle income countries that lack resources for safety initiatives. The Decade plans to voluntarily encourage the U.S. auto industry to donate $2 for every new vehicle sold to raise $140 million a year to fund even more road safety programs.
“Today countries and communities are taking action vital to saving lives on our streets and highways,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. “Road traffic crashes are a growing health and development concern affecting all nations, and the Decade offers a framework for an intensified response.”
Shockingly, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists account for half of the deaths worldwide from auto accidents. The Decade plans on using some of the monies raised to build bicycle, walking, and motorcycle lanes.
“None of us should have to bear the grief and devastation caused by a road traffic crash,” said Dr. Etienne Krug, WHO Director of the Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability. “The steps outlined in the Global Plan for the Decade are immediately doable, and will do much to spare the suffering of so many.”
In Illinois, a handful of new laws are in effect in 2011 to protect bicyclists and pedestrians. Illinois Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 11-703 states that, “A person driving a motor vehicle shall not, in a reckless manner, drive the motor vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, pedestrian, or a person riding a horse or driving an animal drawn vehicle.” If this statute is violated and the victim incurs bodily harm or permanent disability, the driver will be charged with a Class 3 felony. Last year, the Illinois Vehicle Code was amended to safeguard pedestrians. Vehicle codes 625 ILCS 5/11-1002 and 625 ILCS 5/11-1002.5 mandate that automobiles “… stop and yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk rather than yielding the right-of-way by slowing down or stopping if need be.” This is especially important for many of the school zones that have children walking to and from school every day.
Chicago accident attorney and SuperLawyer Paul A. Greenberg, Esq. knows first-hand the dangers that pedestrians and cyclists encounter on a daily basis. In his law practice at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, he counsels clients who are dealing with serious injuries and sometimes the death of a loved one because of a driver’s carelessness. Global initiatives in tandem with local efforts will push for more stringent measures to protect the clients he sees every day. Mr. Greenberg’s team of Chicago accident lawyers is known for fighting for their clients’ rights to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other costs associated with vehicle accidents.