"Our children, Our roads, Our responsibility" – EU highlights importance of Road Safety
06/11/2019 - 00:00
The EU Delegation invited to a workshop and a photo exhibition to raise awareness about the need for safer roads and to support the UN Road Safety Fund.
In the context of the Geneva Friends of Road Safety Network's second get-together, the EU Delegation convened an afternoon workshop where Friends of the Network, Ambassadors and experts gathered to discuss the 2019 Call for Proposals of the UN Road Safety Fund (RSF) with a special focus on children's safety on our roads.
The Geneva Friends of Road Safety is an informal network that we created to support global road safety policy and action, in particular the RSF and the activities of the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt. It is an informal platform that provides an opportunity to the Geneva-based diplomats and experts, as well as representatives of international organisations, to meet and discuss possible ways to improve road safety worldwide and to support a global action through international outreach.
At the workshop, Special Envoy Jean Todt was joined by UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova, Deputy Director General for Mobility and Transport from the EU Commission Matthew Baldwin, and EU Ambassador Walter Stevens on the high level panel to highlight the critical numbers related to road traffic accidents:
Road crashes are the number one cause of death for children aged 5-14 and young adults aged 15-29. 500 children die on our roads every single day.
In view of these numbers, EU Ambassador Walter Stevens said: "These tragic numbers are shocking and simply unacceptable. It's our joint responsibility to make roads safer for all children around the world!"
Yet, action towards mitigating deaths on the streets is simple: UNECE Executive Secretary highlighted that "there are more people dying on the roads than due to malaria – but while we do not know how to erase malaria, we do know how to treat Road Safety!"
Safer infrastructure and safer vehicles, speed limits, belts, helmets, education programmes, and a forward-looking sustainable mobility vision are all common standards that can be implemented easily across the region, Special Envoy Todt continued.
Deputy Director General of DG Mand European Coordinator for Road Safety Baldwin added that “considering the comparison of death toll of road crashes to the volume of the Spanish flue deaths, we have collectively failed to put road safety in top of our agenda.”
EU Action on Road Safety: Vision Zero
In order to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on European roads, the EU Commission has adopted Vision Zero: Our long-term goal of zero fatalities in road transport by 2050. The EU addresses the causes of deaths and serious injuries in road accidents in an integrated way by adopting laws, supporting public education campaigns, helping member countries and other road safety actors share relevant experience and by providing funding – for example to the UN RSF.
After the workshop, the participants – together with Geneva-based Ambassadors – gathered for a photo exhibition and the screening of two short films dedicated to raising awareness of the negative impact of our road traffic on children. The exhibition, jointly organized with WHO, showcased photos from WHO as well as by Project Edward, which aims to bring about a "European Day Without A Road Death".
EU Ambassador Stevens opened the photo exhibition with the words: "We all individually and jointly can and should contribute to make our roads safer for our children and future generations. If I want you to take home one thing tonight, then it is your commitment to raise awareness in your countries and to show political will to act: identify and support road safety initiatives at home and save children's lives."
"This exhibition reminds us that the death of even one child on our roads is one too many. No child or young person should die or be injured on our roads. We must work all together to accelerate progress on Road Safety," said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The Director-General shared his personal story about the danger of crossing roads as a child in Ethiopia on his daily way to school. He personally urged countries to ensure safe transportation to reduce needless death and disability caused by road traffic crashes.