Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honor for me to participate in the opening of the Sweden-Korea Road Safety Forum.
During the last decades, the car has meant freedom for millions of people around the world. The fact that more people can afford to buy their own car has led to the opening up of new horizons. People can visit new places. People can also choose to live outside the cities and commute by car.
But cars do not only mean freedom. They also mean more strain on the environment. Given the problems of global warming, it is very good to see that the car industry now actively explore eco-friendly car fuels.
The constantly increasing number of cars and trucks also mean more traffic accidents. In fact, 1.2 million people lose their lives on the roads every year. This means that traffic accidents kill more people than for example malaria.
But there are ways to reduce the number of accidents on the roads.
In Sweden, a lot if research is being carried out to achieve this. I welcome the cooperation that now has started between Korean and Swedish organizations active in this field. Three areas are in focus: driver behavior, safer vehicle technology and road safety.
The first area - driver behavior - is probably the most difficult to change. Some things can, with no doubt, be improved through better education. But to change the mindset of drivers are very difficult.
The other two areas - safer vehicles and roads - are the focus if this forum. Both Korea and Sweden have long traditions in manufacturing cars, buses, and trucks.
I hope that this forum can contribute to a lively exchange of new ideas on how to make our vehicles and roads safer. The Swedish companies represented here today have all shown great excellence in this area.
In Sweden, we have over the last years put a lot of effort into making our roads safer. As a race car driver in STCC, the Swedish Touring Car Cooperation, I know how important safety is - not only on the racing tracks but also on the roads.
The Swedish parliament had adopted a zero vision, aiming at no deaths in traffic. This is a very ambitious goal but also a difficult goal to reach.
I find it very promising that Korea and Sweden are closely cooperating in the field of road safety. This adds another important area to our already existing collaboration.
I see this Road Safety Forum as a good example of how two developed countries can benefit from close cooperation. I am sure that today's discussions will be very useful and I hope that this day will lead to great new ideas.
I wish for all of you a very interesting forum!