Brians Column: The role of African young people in road safety

Brians Column: The role of African young people in road safety

Brian’s column is back this month, this time reporting back from 3rd Global Road Safety Partnership Africa Seminar that was held from 10th-14th August 2014 at Southern Sun Hotel, Cape Town (South Africa). In this edition, he offers his insight into the role of young people in Africa and how they can contribute to road safety.

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Feel, Go & Get Mad!

When I was asked by GRSP to see if I could participate in Session Four of the seminar on 13 August 2014 and present a paper on the topic: The role of African young people in promoting road safety, a zillion questions bombarded my (soon to be ) bald head. Zeroing down to the real questions, I asked the organizers: How much time shall I be given? As you could have experienced, if a young person/child is killed on the road, the event is run as a newsbulletin on radio or TV, the victim is buried, a lot of speeches are said but sadly, nothing is done on the blackspot where such an incidence happened.

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Brian with seminar organising team finalizing the training programme and social media agenda: With Top African Road Safety Advocates Bright (ASIRT-Kenya) and Caro Smith (SADD-South Africa) Brian with seminar organising team finalizing the training programme and social media agenda: With Top African Road Safety Advocates Bright (ASIRT-Kenya) and Caro Smith (SADD-South Africa)

Very rarely have we forced extra pressure on community, municipal or district authorities to do something. As usual (with due respect), the police will be investigating. The life of the victim isn’t quantified and qualitified into the value that the community or society has lost! At the (global) continent level, young people are faced with innate and structural challanges as stated by YOURS:

  • A lack of awareness and recognition in the world of the vulnerable position of young people in traffic.
  • A lack of Africa-level (National) coordination and collaboration among youth and youth-led NGO’s and their road safety initiatives.Youth road safety initiatives remain small-scaled and scattered.
  • A lack of one strong voice to advocate on the behalf of youth and road safety.
  • A lack of resources for youth road safety programmes.
  • A lack of a next generation of leaders who are passionate about road safety and involved in decision making within the road safety field at the community level
  • A lack of capacity building. Road safety knowledge and best practices from youth initiatives are not shared in a broader network. Besides this, programmes targeting youth and road safety are commonly not evidence-based

2014 is the third year of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2014) with the love of my life -Africa Region still having some of the jaw dropping rates of road traffic deaths globally! Right now, kindly don’t get bored by this statement:-Road Traffic Crashes are the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-30. However, young people are not the only victims of road crashes. In the 10 years of the Decade, some youths will have grown into leadership positions and will be able to influence policy decisions and implementation of technology. Now, you know why the 3rd Africa Road Safety Seminar was dedicated, to the safety of children and youths in the urban environment of our cities.

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So, when I opened up the presentation with ‘The only way to express our impatience over the sluggish forward movement of the attempts to curb the road safety problem is to feel, go and get mad’, there was a ‘this-looks-like fun laughter’ in the audience. The presentation covered 6 major subthemes on Advocating for youth related road safety issues at village level, in a school, nationally and regionally, Connecting young people and youth-led NGO's active in the road safety field around the region, so they can work together and easily share information and experiences, Building capacity among youth in the road safety field using YOURS Road Safety Tool Kits etc, Working with policy/decision makers/ private partners, Working with victims of road crashes and their families, Working with the media, Conducting research and having it connected to the Global Youth and Road Safety Research Hub!

The point is:

  • The role of young African people in promoting road safety is as wide as our ability to translate awareness into action. It’s time to utilize all the chances to raise our voices, talk about it even at church/mosque/ toilet everywhere: FEEL MAD
  • We must embrace our creativity coupled by passion to do something over the leading cause of death amongst young people worldwide: say Draw cartoons, paint, design T-shirts, personalize your car with road safety messages: GO MAD
  • And ofcourse no one is gonna kill you for asking for alittle help over event organising, a training workshop, an essay writing competition, traditional dance/edutainment , So get to people, communities, banks, churches etc and Create a road safety madness :GET MAD!

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Wishing you a safe month from Melbourne where I am attending and presenting at the Guidelines International Network Seminar on Prehospital Care in Developing countries.

But wait, that’s another story (winks) @BrianBilalK1


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