The Festival celebrates bi-annually the work of the International Community in the field of road safety and brings together national and international delegates to showcase their work in making their nation’s roads safer. The festival is a great forum to share practice on campaigns that have been successful in changing road behavior. It gives concrete examples for countries to learn from in tackling road traffic accidents, an international problem.
In its 6th session, The International Festival hosted by the Tunisian Association for Road Crash Prevention (ATPR), the issue of road safety as global crisis has become a permanent foundation for the theme of this event. Road Crashes are a major cause of death in our ‘global village’ and is the leading cause of death of young people worldwide.
Since launching at the Global Ministerial Conference for Road Safety Moscow, YOURS: Youth for Road Safety have been very active in bringing young people to the forefront of the road safety agenda. When I was asked to represent young people on behalf of YOURS, it was great honor and high responsibility to be bringing an essence of ‘youth’ to the Festival in Tunis, Tunisia.
While Floor Lieshout, CEO of YOURS attended the United Nations General Assembly witnessing a historic passing of a resolution for ‘A Decade Action for Road Safety’, YOURS was simultaneously being represented on the other side of the world in the North African State of Tunisia. Not only did this mark a significant milestone in illustrating the capacity of YOURS, but also signified the importance of young people at two important events.
The festival was a great learning experience for me. I learned of key campaigns from Spain, Senegal, Saudi Arabia and Egypt but also youth initiatives in France, The Netherlands, Belgium and Hungary. After delivering my two presentations to the Young Drivers Forum, the energy and momentum were clear; young people must be part of a global action to make roads safe and they can do this by becoming ambassadors themselves, advising their friends, their loved ones and their peers of safer road behavior.
We must reactive and proactive; we must be the change to see the change. I was pleased to have spoken to hundreds of young people at the end of the sessions some of whom kindly offered to say a few words about YOURS. You can see these in our videos.
So what has changed in Tunisia? From what I saw, the answer is clear. Young people challenged their own beliefs and this was evident in the debate after my YOURS presentation. ‘But my friends love to speed, what do I tell them?’ asked one young person, ‘Explain to them why you yourself do no speed and they will understand’ was my reply.
The discussions at the Festival were crucial and opened dialogue to address road safety that maybe these young people have never before engaged with. Young people here pledged to be part of the solution in changing the fact that they are most overrepresented group in the world’s traffic crashes. The dialogue in Tunisia will form part of a catalyst around the world in giving young people the opportunity to change their actions, ask for resources to support their initiatives and start a fresh wave of campaigning in their countries and with their peers for safer roads everywhere.
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