While road traffic safety should first and foremost be addressed at the national and regional levels it should also clearly be dealt with at the international level, preferably within the UN system. At the outset I would therefore like to express our continued support for the Omani initiative and thank the Delegation of Oman for bringing this important subject matter to our attention.
The Icelandic government has recently published a traffic safety plan until the year 2012. The main aim is to make Iceland a model society in road traffic safety. To raise awareness among the public, that one accident is one too many.
We have already experienced a reduction in fatal and other serious accidents but the goal is a further 40% decrease in such accidents in the next eight years. From 1980 to 1989 the death toll was 10,3 per 100.000 inhabitants, but in 1990 to 2000 it had been reduced to 7,8.
The emphasis of the new traffic safety plan will be on safer speed; use of safety equipment such as seatbelts and safety seats for children; safer drivers with improved education and tests; preventing driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or fatique; improving the safety of roads and their environment; strengthening police patrol and the effectiveness of the justice system in dealing with traffic law violations.
A study which was published in Iceland on the occasion of the International Health Day on 7 April found that while cars and roads have become safer, the three main risks to road traffic safety are speeding; drinking and driving and, thirdly, not using seat belts. All these risks are very much at the responsibility as well as control of the individuals concerned.
It is believed that if all drivers in Iceland would respect speed limits, fatal accident would be 35 ? 40% fewer. It has also been established that in the years 1998 to 2000, 46% of the people who died in traffic accidents in Iceland did not use seat belts. Many of them could have saved their lives by using them. Driving under the influence of alcohol is still a problem but here the emphasis is on preventive measures. Surveys indicate that some progress has been made.
In Iceland good cooperatioon between all the parties concerned has been essential in achieving success in improving road traffic safety and many campaigns have been launched throughout the years to engage and increase awareness among the public. The study that was issued on the International Health Day was made by a committee consisting of representatives from all sectors of society including the government, the municipalities, NGO´s and the private sector. The study established that traffic law violations make up 72% of all registered law violations in the country at an enormous cost to society, both in human and financial terms.
It is those negative consequences of road traffic accidents that all of us have in common while the conditions in our countries do vary as regards the conditions of roads, cars and so on. It is those negative consequences to our societies that make it worthwhile for all of us to also address this problem at the international level.
In recent years research on traffic safety has increased and hopefully more knowledge will result in adding to traffic safety worldwide. For our part, we stand ready to share our experience with other countries.
Thank you, Mr. President