We have reached an important milestone for youth and road safety in the Commonwealth agenda with the launch of the Commonwealth Youth Development Index (YDI) - a resource to track the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals associated with youth development. Secretary-General of Towards Zero Foundation, Jessica Truong talks about this important milestone in her blog for the Commonwealth Road Safety Initiative. We reproduced it here:
Today marks a significant milestone for youth and road safety with the launch of the Commonwealth Youth Development Index (YDI). For the first time, the Commonwealth has recognized and focused on road safety as the leading cause of death for young people and included a chapter on its importance in the YDI. The chapter, authored by the Towards Zero Foundation (TZF) and Youth for Road Safety (YOURS), highlights the importance of prioritizing road safety and the involvement of youth in the path to sustainable development within the Commonwealth.
Everyone has the right to be safe on our roads and no child should have to fear the walk to school, but unfortunately, this is not the reality for many of us in this world. For those that live in low-income countries, the inequality in safety is far greater, with these countries having a road fatality rate 3 times that of high-income countries. Having said that, even high-income countries can do better to keep people safe on the roads.
When we think about what the most pressing public health issues are to address globally or even at a country level, the first thoughts might perhaps be cancer or heart disease. Very rarely will you hear road trauma being mentioned. However, road safety is one health issue that has an impact on every single person no matter where they live. Everyone uses the road in some way whether as a driver, passenger, cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian and that is why road safety should concern everyone. It is a sad reality that road trauma is reaching crisis proportions globally, with over 1.35 million killed each year and millions more seriously injured. Many of the countries most greatly affected reside within the Commonwealth region, where over 500,000 lose their lives every year. And we should be especially concerned that road trauma is the number one killer of our young people aged between 5-29. It is undoubtedly the biggest health threat our young people face today.
Within the Commonwealth, where over 60% of its population is aged under 30, priority actions and leadership are needed to secure the safety and future of young people. And the research is clear. If nothing is done and the current road trauma trends continue, many countries within the Commonwealth will see even more people being killed every year. That is why it is so urgent for the Commonwealth to shine a light on road trauma and make it a priority public health issue to be addressed.
For the past year, we have been working closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Youth Forum and Youth for Road Safety (YOURS) to put road safety on the agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) as we recognise that leadership and commitment from the top down is necessary to secure the future we desire to see for our young people. Understandably, due to COVID-19, CHOGM which was due to be held in June this year has once again been postponed.
With the postponement of CHOGM, we are especially excited to welcome the launch of the latest edition of the Youth Development Index (YDI) today.
The YDI, developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, evaluates the status of young people in over 180 countries around the world and comprehensively measures domains that are critical to youth development, such as education, health and employment. The YDI also helps inform policy-makers about young people's needs and opportunities, as well as highlighting key areas where attention and investment are needed.
For the first time, road trauma has been recognized as a significant public health concern facing youth in the Commonwealth in the YDI. We are proud to have contributed a chapter on youth and road safety and highlighting why it is critical for the Commonwealth to address road trauma, the leading cause of death of our young people. The inclusion and recognition of road trauma as a major health concern for the Commonwealth is a significant milestone on our way to advocating for road safety to be put on the Commonwealth agenda.
In 2020, a new United Nations (UN) resolution proclaimed 2021-2030 as the second decade of action for road safety and announced a target of at least a 50% reduction in road deaths and injuries by 2030. All countries are encouraged to do more in road safety to help meet this target, including all countries in the Commonwealth. We want countries to realize that road trauma does not have to be an inevitable consequence of mobility. We want countries to understand that we have the solutions to address almost all of the trauma that we see on the road today. But what we are lacking is commitment, leadership and fast implementation. If all countries can commit to rolling out just the evidence-based road trauma solutions we have today, we will go a long way in meeting and possibly even exceeding the 2030 target.
The reality is, we cannot talk about youth development and sustainable development without first addressing the biggest health threat facing our young people and that is road traffic injuries. Today, the inclusion of road safety in the YDI marked a big step forward in having this included as a priority on the Commonwealth’s agenda. We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with the Commonwealth and working together to meet the 2030 target of reducing road deaths and injuries by 50% and ultimately towards a future that is safe for all.
Secretary General, Towards Zero Foundation