New York, NY (BBN)– Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for improving road safety around the world, saying it is the best way to honour the victims of traffic accidents.

An estimated 1.3 million people die on the world’s roads every year with around 50 million injured or disabled by accidents, with accidents costing countries up to four per cent of their Gross National Product (GNP) yearly.

In a message marking the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Mr. Ban said greater awareness of the challenge posed by road traffic incidents had brought responses and the UN had declared the first-ever ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety.’

“Governments should release their national plans for the Decade when it is launched globally on 11 May 2011,” the UN chief said.

Mourning the victims of traffic accidents, he said the UN would work hard to prevent further deaths on the roads.

“Many tragedies can be avoided through a set of proven, simple measures that benefit not only individuals and families but society at large,” he added.

“For my part, I have issued a directive to all United Nations staff instructing drivers of UN vehicles to practice road safety, including by wearing seatbelts, obeying speed limits and avoiding the use of mobile phones and other distractions.

“If we all take these simple measures, we can give real meaning to this observance, thereby honouring the memory of the victims in the best way possible: with action to spare the lives of others.”

BBN/SI/AD-22Nov10-11:42 am (BST)