THE BEST WAY TO REMEMBER ROAD TRAFFIC VICTIMS: FIGHT FOR CHANGE

road safety blog

Written by former CEO & President, Kate Carr.

On this World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2015, we pause for a moment to remember the millions of people who have lost their lives around the globe in road collisions. Here at Safe Kids Worldwide, we remember all road traffic victims, but we pay special tribute to the more than 180,000 children who lose their lives every year in vehicles, as pedestrians, as bicyclists, and on motorcycles. For children, road traffic deaths are a true health epidemic, ranking as the number one cause of death for those between the ages of 5 and 19, both in the United States and around the world.

It’s easy to understand that each one of those young lives lost represents an unimaginable tragedy for every family affected, and these deaths are also a devastating blow to the community and a significant drain on the economy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Deaths and serious injuries on our roads are not “accidents,” but highly predictable and preventable events that we can stop – if we have the energy and the commitment to make this issue a top priority among policymakers worldwide.

This year, the World Day of Remembrance falls only a few days before the 2nd High-Level Conference on Road Safety, a major meeting of the United Nations intended to mark the mid-point of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety. I’ll be attending this conference along with other representatives from Safe Kids, and we’ll be fighting to make the UN Decade of Action live up to its promise. This year, we succeeded in convincing the UN to make road safety one of the top priorities of its new sustainable development goals. But now we have to live up to that target – and succeed in halving deaths from road traffic injuries by 2020.

We can only do that if each of us does our part to raise awareness and convince policymakers to take real action. Safe Kids Worldwide has made a commitment not just to remember road safety victims, but to honor their lives by making improved global road safety a top priority. Today, we call on you to do the same by recommitting to this critical issue and signing the Child Declaration that calls on policymakers to change laws and enhance enforcement so that we can #SaveKidsLives. Already more than 1 million people worldwide have signed the Child Declaration, and it will be delivered to world leaders when they are meeting in Brazil. Adding your voice and increasing the number of signatures will help us bring about real change!

What happens next week in Brazil will be the beginning of a long and important struggle that all of us must embrace. It’s unthinkable to continue accepting 500 deaths a day among children -- and thousands of serious injuries – as our reality. Instead, we must create a world where children travel safely and look forward to a future of health and fulfillment.

Through our Buckle Up child passenger safety program, our Walk this Way pedestrian safety program, and our bicycle safety programs, Safe Kids is leading the way on road safety for children in all corners of the globe. Working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the U.S., we’ve certified more than 144,000 child passenger technicians, and this highly successful program is expanding rapidly in places like China and Qatar. In 2014, we hosted the Safe Road | Safe Kids Global Road Safety Summit in Washington, DC, which brought together 250 stakeholders from more than 20 nations to focus on how we can drastically reduce deaths and injuries among children.

This year, we’ll redouble our commitment, expanding programs in the field and intensifying advocacy efforts that hold policymakers accountable for their decisions. We ask you to do the same. Please get involved in your own community and on the road safety issues that concern you the most. You’ll find wonderful resources on our website, and we promise to bring you more ideas for meaningful action steps we can take together.

Working side by side, we can end this epidemic. I’m counting on your help.

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Kate Carr