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Every year, 1.4 million people are  killed from road crashes and  millions more are injured. Half of all road traffic deaths are among vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Road traffic deaths are also the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29, and road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally. Beyond human suffering, road traffic deaths and injuries impose significant economic and financial losses to societies. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed a Decade of Action for Road Safety ("Decade"). The goal of the Decade (2011-2020) is to stabilize and then reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths around the world.
The Decade reaches its mid-term review this year (2015) with little observed change in the number of global annual road traffic deaths. With motorization rates rising rapidly around the world corresponding  to economic growth, especially in low- and middle-income countries, it is timely and imperative for all countries now to make tangible progress in improving the safety of their roads if they have not yet started to do so, and to further improve their road safety record.
It is within this context that the United Nations Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Todt as his Special Envoy for Road Safety. Mr. Todt will help mobilize sustained political commitment towards making road safety a priority; to advocate and raise awareness about the United Nations road safety legal instruments; share established road safety good practices; and generate adequate funding for advocacy efforts through strategic partnerships between the public, private and non-governmental sectors.
UNECE will act as the secretariat for the Special Envoy for Road Safety.
UNECE is the custodian of the United Nations road safety legal instruments applicable worldwide, such as the Convention on Road Traffic, the Convention on Road Signs and Signals, and the 1958, 1997 and 1998 Vehicle Regulations Agreements.
UNECE services the ECOSOC Committee of Experts on Transport of Dangerous Goods, as well as the only permanent United Nations intergovernmental forum on road safety (Working Party on Road Traffic Safety) and the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, both in the framework of the Inland Transport Committee, which is the only permanent UN forum specialized in inland modes of transport.