On 19 November 2018, YOURS co-organized a high-level international road safety conference in Malta. The Government of Malta and the European Regional Office of the World Health Organization asked YOURS to Chair and bring together a panel that would discuss meaningful youth engagement in designing a safe mobility system. In other words, discuss the importance of youth involvement build in policymaking, implementation, and evaluation.
Followed after a.o. speeches of the Prime-Minister of Malta (video), the Deputy Prime-Minister of Malta, United Nations Secretary-General Special Envoy Jean Todt and various very moving stories of road victims, it was time for a panel on meaningful youth participation. YOURS brought together a panel of specialists and experts working with youth, or being a youth advocate themselves. The panel was chaired and moderated by Floor Lieshout. Below are the summaries of the opening statements:
"My goal is to create a generation of youth road safety advocates, helping to ensure that future generations will not have to suffer from the burden of preventable road traffic deaths and injuries.
Together, we must use these experiences of these senseless and unjust treatments to cultivate a network of young people who are actively engaged in changing behaviors on the road, advocating for environmental modification surrounding our schools and leading in educating the public on this epidemic.
Representation matters and the most affected population should be at the forefront of decisions affecting their communities. It is imperative that we call for a 2nd World Youth Assembly for Road Safety; Gathering survivors and young people from many countries to identify ways to strengthen and mobilize youth road safety.
This is not a gathering for lip service, but an investment in utilizing this safe system approach for youth and advocating for political and financial resources."
"It is clear that the unique needs, and voices, of young people in many cities are being not being heard. Many emerging health issues for adolescents, including road traffic injury, continue to be neglected and lack of participation, lack of connection with policy makers continues to play a huge part in this.
In UNICEF’s child-friendly cities guide, it is not only access to safe and clean environments, to health and education that are outlined as fundamental human rights, but also civic participation.
Participation is a human right, it’s what makes cities liveable and is not something that should discriminate by age. It’s important that young people are encouraged to play active and engaging roles at all levels of government. With their communities, cities, national governments, and even at a supra-national level such as the United Nations. It’s equally important that all these different levels of democracy recognise their responsibility in opening their platforms to young people."
"Over the past few years, road safety has been increasing in importance on the national agenda with many multi-stakeholder initiatives focusing on raising awareness and educating the public about the dangers that they may expose themselves to by being unsafe on the roads.
Amongst these stakeholders we have seen many youths come to the forefront of the issue, this is clearly shown by the strong youth representation in NGOs such as Doctors for Road Safety and the Bicycle Advocacy Group to name a few. The Malta University student council has also been very vocal in its push for more sustainable modes of transport.
Driving under the influence is an aspect of road safety not directly mentioned in the Malta Youth Declaration for Road Safety 2017 but one that I feel is very important especially related with respect to youth.
Recently legal blood alcohol limits have been drastically decreased and are finally making it clear that drinking and driving should never go hand in hand.
Together with this new legislation, I feel that there should also be a push to strengthen the enforcement of such issues as well as addressing any loopholes there may be related to drunk driving laws."
Priscilla Le Lièvre - Project officer at ETSC
"The fatality of drivers aged 15-24 is up to twice as high as that of more experienced drivers. The risks are even higher for young moped and motorcycle riders. In some member states, over 40% of moped and motorcycle under 25 had been in a collision in the last twelve months. The increased risk that young people face on the road is due to a combination of factors:
The aim of ETSC in implementing such project was to offer a better understanding of young and novice drivers as road users group particularly at risk and to promote actions to address this risk. YEARS is a project on young people (data and studies on young people have been published), for young people (policy recommendations to improve their safety have been issued) and by young people (as one strand of the project involved directly young people and asked them to develop a road safety project)."
Chiara Vassallo - Finance Officer at Malta's National Youth Council
"Having put forward policy proposals in the past, our aim has always been to assess as many spheres of youth’s lives. This goes from proposals on work to civic education, to mental health etc. Of course, Road Safety is one that could not be left out.
One other proposal we had made on the topic was the implementation of more frequent public transport throughout the night. This would help to increase road safety both by deterring drunk driving which we know is very common in Malta, but also during exam periods where many students tend to spend nights studying at university and also those youths working late shifts.
Driving home, as their energy drinks are wearing off and the tiredness starts to take its toll, making it harder to drive and focus on the road; putting both themselves and others that may be driving at that time, at risk. Increasing the bus frequency would also reduce the issue of overcrowding buses, particularly in the case of a crash and combat the lack of seatbelts."
YOURS would like to thank all the great panelists for their amazing input and views. We also thank all other organizers for his opportunity to discuss this very important issue, especially the Government of Malta and the World Health Organization Europe