The UN General Assembly resolution and the next UN inter-ministerial conference in 2020
The resolution covers eleven pages. It deals with many different issues giving warnings and advice and also commending those who have taken action to improve road safety. The section on motorcycling reads:
Encourages Member States to develop and implement comprehensive legislation and policies on motorcycles, including on training, driver licensing, vehicle registration, working conditions and the use by motorcyclists of helmets and personal protection equipment, within the existing international standards, given the disproportionally high and increasing numbers of motorcycle deaths and injuries globally, particularly in developing countries.
About one million three hundred thousand people are fatally injured in road traffic collisions across the world. Ninety percent of these take place in middle and low-income countries – as defined by the criteria established by the World Bank. The World Health Organisation estimates that of this number about half a million are motorcycle riders and or their passengers.
In many countries record keeping will not always record what part the person played in road traffic that day – whether they were driving or riding.
Reading the resolution many people will be confused with the mention of working conditions. This is because in many countries motorcycles are used commercially as delivery vehicles and often as taxis. Speaking at the recent UN meetings in Geneva before this session in New York, Dr Kunnawee Kanitpong (advisor to the Thai Prime Minister) explained that many passengers on motorcycle taxis never use a helmet. – Although the rider might do so. Sometimes the rider will offer a spare helmet to the passenger but even then, many decline to use something that has been frequently used by other people.
The resolution wording also mentions “international standards” but when it comes to helmets these are difficult to apply for use in tropical climates. Most helmets made to UN ECE 22 are too expensive in low income countries. The second issue is the lack of ventilation that makes wearing helmets for long periods of time difficult. This issue is dealt with in more detail in part three of this article.
The resolution also thanks the Swedish government for its offer to host the next UN Inter-Ministerial Conference in 2020. This follows on from previous editions during the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety in Moscow (2009) and Brasilia (2015) where FIM was also present.
As the Decade draws to a close the ambitions to substantially reduce death on the roads will not have been achieved. There are examples where success has been achieved in reducing or at least stabilising the trend. Economic growth and the huge rise in motorisation of traffic make the work more difficult.
Following the formality of a session of the General Assembly the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration met. This is an advisory organisation which is hosted by the World Health Organisation. The WHO-OMS is part of the United Nations structure.
FIM is a member organisation in the UN Road Safety Collaboration. The UN conference in 2020 in Sweden was discussed. Lena Kling, Deputy Director-General of the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation confirmed she had held discussions with Jesper Christensen. The Swedish authorities will support an event alongside the 2020 conference to focus on motorcycling safety, particularly in middle and low-income countries.
This is welcome news. The last time motorcycling was considered at a major international conference was 2008. - In Lillehammer Norway, by the International Transport Forum. The ITF is headquartered in Paris and administered by the OECD. (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development).
The ITF is politically independent of the OECD and the ITF and OECD are not part of the United Nations structures.
Following the 2008 event the ITF spent several years researching the issues raised and in 2015 produced a report on motorcycling safety. This was launched at the FIM policy debate in Brussels in 2015.
Aspects of the 2015 ITF report have been used by FIM Europe and FEMA as the basis for a series of joint position papers on the major issues facing motorcycling.
The experience gained in 2008 and from the 2015 report will be used by the motorcycling community to cooperate with the Swedish government to ensure that the event in 2020 will deliver something useful for riders. – This time with a focus on middle and low-income countries.