As I've said time and time again, our top priority here at DOT is safety. And our commitment to helping Americans move safely from one place to another includes good laws, tough enforcement, public education, and innovative infrastructure design.
Over the years, these interconnected efforts have helped America develop a national traffic safety culture that’s paying off: last year, the number of traffic fatalities in America fell to the lowest levels since 1949.
And just yesterday, for example, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law a tough ban on texting while driving. That brings the total number of states banning texting behind the wheel to 32, plus Washington, D.C. and Guam.
But road safety isn’t just a local or national issue--it’s a global one. On roads around the world, nearly 1.3 million people are killed each year and 50 million more are injured. This means 3,500 people around the world are lost each day to traffic crashes.
That’s why DOT is so pleased to join dozens of governments and international organizations to launch the United Nations’ Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.
Yesterday, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland attended an event in front of the U.S. Capitol announcing the creation of this important initiative. The U.N. General Assembly has set an ambitious goal for the decade: to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic fatalities around the world.
We're talking about trying to save 5 million lives over the next 10 years.
All over the world, international leaders are committing to safety and kicking off national plans to make this goal a reality. To symbolize the launch, national monuments in New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Warsaw, Sydney, Moscow, Colombo, Geneva, and many others are illuminated with the road safety "tag" that symbolizes the Decade.
This isn’t the first time DOT has worked with the United Nations to promote global road safety. They’ve also been important partners in our fight to end distracted driving. Last year, I was proud to join U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as he issued a directive to more than 40,000 U.N. employees that barred them from texting behind the wheel while driving U.N.-owned vehicles.
And I am confident that the U.N. Decade of Action for Road Safety will be another successful partnership that will continue to save lives here in the U.S. and all over the world.