Page last updated at 02:09 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

UK to pay for safer roads abroad

Pedestrian crossing in London
The UK has a relatively good road safety record

Some of the world's poorest countries are to receive a cash injection of £1.5m from the UK government to help improve road safety.

Road accidents are now a bigger cause of death than malaria in developing countries, with one person dying on the roads every 30 seconds.

The funding will pay for pedestrian crossings and better road markings.

It was announced at the first ministerial global road safety summit, which was held in Moscow.

Minister for Development Gareth Thomas said the road safety statistics in developing countries were "shocking".

"I want to see this funding make a real impact on reducing casualty numbers where it's needed most. It will help with implementing basic safety measures," he said.

"Statistics show that the UK has some of the safest roads in the world. We must use our expertise to help developing countries meet the safety standards that we take for granted."

'Change of direction'

Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association (AA), who was in the Russian capital for the summit, urged the governments present to make a commitment.

We have the vaccines for this epidemic, now we need the political will for a decade of action for road safety
Lord Robertson, Make Roads Safe campaign

"A decade of action is crucial - we will achieve nothing if we do not work together," he said.

"The UK has a relatively good record on road safety but it is vital that we help the global, as well as local, efforts to cut road carnage."

Former UK Defence Secretary Lord Robertson, who is chairman of the global Make Roads Safe campaign, said the conference must "signal a change of direction".

"We know how to make roads safe: better road design and speed management; helmets and seatbelts; police enforcement," he said.

"We have the vaccines for this epidemic, now we need the political will for a decade of action for road safety."

The funding is being provided by the Department for International Development, which has already given £3.5m for research on improving the design and quality of transport in Africa and Asia.

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