We are back fresh from Sweden after a monumental week for youth and road safety! On the 18th February, we marked the 2nd World Youth Assembly for Road Safety, bringing together nearly 200 young leaders from all across the world. Months of consultations and amalgamation of youth opinions from around the world culminated in the Global Youth Statement on Road Safety.
We, the Youth of the World gathering in Stockholm, Sweden for the 2nd World Youth Assembly for Road Safety, unite and say “no more!” to dying and getting injured on world’s roads. We were born into a global crisis: road traffic crashes have been the biggest killer of young people aged 15-29 for more than a decade. We are done with over 1000 young people dying every day. Why is the world not panicking? Wake up!
We the Youth have been seen as ‘problematic road users’ – as the group in society that is reckless, takes risks and overestimates their behaviours. Why then are young people more likely to die in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries? It is the unsafe mobility system that is failing us. Stop blaming us, start protecting and engaging us.
This Global Youth Statement brings together the voices of more than 1500 young people who took part in Youth Consultations. It paints a vivid picture of what we experience every day on our unsafe roads. We, the Youth, representing over 74 countries proclaim ‘hear our voice’ and our call for immediate action. Not tomorrow, today.
We, the Youth of Africa, are forced to deal with badly designed road infrastructure, leading pedestrians to jaywalk and vehicles to get involved in serious crashes. A lack of basic education and awareness, causes people to drive without proper training. The air pollution caused by unroadworthy vehicles is making us suffocate.
We, the Youth of the Americas, experience poverty leading to poor public services. Many of the victims could have been saved if post-crash services were more efficient or adequate facilities even existed. Also, public insecurity and sexual harassment are major concerns that prevent women from using public transport.
We, the Youth of South-East Asia, as of the Western Pacific, are fed up of corruption leading to poor regulation and enforcement. Pedestrians get forced out of the sidewalk by vendors and vehicles. We see overcrowded and speeding public vehicles, simply because drivers want to earn more. And still, not enough people are wearing helmets on two-wheelers.
We, the Youth of the Eastern Mediterranean, can't access safe and sustainable transportation. Wheelchair users in particular, are required to wait hours for a bus, due to the lack of disability-friendly systems across the region.
We, the Youth of Europe, need better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as safer road users. Problems like drunk/drug-driving still exist and mobile phone use behind the wheel has become a pressing modern-day issue for all road users.
These challenges affect us all in the same way, no matter where we are.
We cannot trust that our decision-makers will make the right decisions. We are therefore claiming our space at the decision-making table. We, the Youth of the World, demand:
● Roads that do not kill our dreams: protect vulnerable users, children and youth on their way to get an education. Stop funding and building anything less than 3-star roads.
● Education for every road user: so that we can afford formal and graduated driving training, the necessary safety-equipment and information on how to be safer.
● "Slow down!": speed kills; we need established and enforced safe speed limits appropriate to the function and location of the road by transport authorities and police.
● No more deathtrap cars: get the unsafe vehicles off the roads and commit to a global vehicle safety standard.
● There is no planet B: we need safe and sustainable transport systems to combat the climate crisis. Let us breathe!
● Lawsss!: we need good helmet and seatbelt laws, laws that protect children in the back seat and have zero tolerance for drugs, alcohol, and distractions. We need the political will to enforce these laws.
● That every second counts: Post-crash care saves lives. We demand a quick and efficient response when the worst happens and justice for road traffic victims.
● Stop blaming us and start engaging us: It’s time to change your perception of youth. No more manipulation, decoration or participation for show. We want our needs, ideas, skills and opinions taken into account. Use our boundless potential.
We call on decision-makers and all stakeholders to invest in a Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety to take the movement forward and enact these demands and commitments. We, the Youth, must also be part of the road safety revolution. So we decided to act.
We, the Youth of the World, commit to the evidence-based solutions that will save lives and act as role models for safe road behaviour to be the change we would like to see. We know that road safety is a facilitator of many SDGs:
SDG 3 Health / Target 3.6
● Advocating for better road safety laws and enforcement, quality forms of non-motorized transport and better post-crash care.
● Calling for a new target to halve road deaths and injuries by 2030.
SDG 4 - Education
● Raising awareness and campaigning for safe school zones.
● Promoting peer education on the importance of observing road safety rules.
SDG 10 - Reduce Inequalities / Target 10.2
● Petitioning for more meaningful youth representation in road safety decision-making.
● Fighting for women’s rights to move safely and free of prejudices.
SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities / Target 11.2
● Advocating to put vulnerable road users first in city design.
● Pressing local decision-makers to invest in safer and sustainable infrastructure, vehicles and road users.
SDG 13 - Climate action
● Advocating for safe and sustainable transport that is clean and green.
It's time for real action, no more false promises or fake commitments. You have to pick a lane: will you work with us to save lives and create a healthier world? Or will you confess to your children in 2030 that you did nothing to stop this global road safety crisis?
We are the Youth of the World, we are here today, these are our demands, these are our commitments - we are #ClaimingOurSpace!