Road traffic deaths and injuries take the lives of nearly 1.3 million people every year, and injure millions more. They have been acknowledged as a challenge by the United Nations and its Member States for many years. It has only been during the past decade, however, that the issue has gained the prominence it deserves among the world's most pressing international health and development concerns. In 2004 WHO and the World Bank launched the World report on road traffic injury prevention, setting out recommendations for Member States to improve their road safety situation. The Report was followed by a number of United Nations General Assembly and World Health Assembly resolutions calling on Member States to prioritize road safety as a development and public health issue and to take measures that are known to be effective in reducing the growing numbers of deaths and injuries on the world's roads.
In 2009 WHO published the Global status report on road safety, the first global assessment of the road safety situation in 178 countries. The same year the Commission for Global Road Safety issued a call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety. The proposal for a Decade called for concerted effort across all societies to address the looming road safety crisis. This call was reflected in the "Moscow Declaration" issued from the highly successful First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety hosted by the Government of the Russian Federation in November 2009. The Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 was officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in March 2010. It is scheduled to commence formally on 11 May 2011.