Statement by Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on World Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims,

Samantha Power
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York 
New York, NY
November 18, 2013

Today, on World Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims, we call on the United Nations and each and every one of its 193 member states to redouble their efforts to end distracted driving, a global killer.

Each year, texting while driving kills six times as many people as drunk driving. Sending a text message takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds, the equivalent of driving down a football field blindfolded at 55 mph. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds worldwide, and lives lost to traffic accidents will surpass those respectively lost to AIDS, cancer and violence by 2030 according to the World Health Organization. These grim statistics represent everyday people – sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and parents – needlessly killed because they were checking that last text message that couldn’t wait. Last year, a 21-year-old man in Texas sent the text "I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident" before barreling into a ditch. And just recently in Arizona, a Public Safety Officer was killed when he was hit by a truck driven by a person checking Facebook on his cell phone. As mobile phone use skyrockets across the world, we will keep hearing these horror stories and the statistics will only grow more grim, if governments and citizens don’t come together to act.

We are starting to make a dent. More than 70 countries have passed laws that restrict driver use of hand-held devices, and in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is providing grants to states that enact and enforce distracted driving laws. Companies, communities, and victims are banding together in creative ways to try to change behavior.

Cars and mobile phones are increasingly ubiquitous in our lives. Distracted driving must be banned, citizens must be educated, and all of us must help stigmatize the practice until people everywhere see distracted driving as the danger that it is. Our lives depend on it.


PRN: 2013/236