The message of ICTs and Improving Road Safety will soon head to Heroes Square, Bridgetown, as the Barbados Telecommunications Unit celebrates World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) next Friday, May 17.

The international theme, inspired by the United Nation’s Decade of Action for Road Safety which will be observed until the year 2020, speaks to the contribution that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can play in the creation of systems which make driving safer, including in-car radars for collision avoidance; and also embraces the elimination of unsafe technology-related distractions while driving.??

In his message for WTISD, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Unit, (ITU) Hamadoun Tour?? noted that "Road traffic safety is a global concern for public health and injury prevention. Every year, 1.3 million people die in traffic related accidents and another 20 to 50 million people are injured mainly in developing countries around the world. As a result, Governments and individuals suffer an estimated US $518 billion in global economic loss," he revealed.

??Observing that these losses were preventable, the Secretary-General added that "Driver distraction and road-user behaviour, such as text messaging and interfacing with in-vehicle navigation or communication systems while driving, are among the leading contributors to road traffic fatalities and injuries.??

"My message is clear: Don’t be distracted by technology when driving, whether calling from your mobile phone, or setting the navigation system. Sending a text message or tweeting while driving is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all cost," he stressed.

Mr. Tour?? also made a call for member states and industry partners to promote the use of safe and hands free devices in vehicles and encourage national policies which boost the use of ICT to improve road safety.

Barbados serves as one of three area offices in the Americas which serve the 35 member states of the ITU in the region.

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