Global Youth Coalition Youth Leadership Board member, Deepanshu Gupta (India), joins the launch of the Global Plan led by the World Health Organization. The launch, happening on Thursday, October 28 at 2 pm CET, will feature global road safety leaders who will highlight the “what to dos”, “how to dos”, and “whos” of road safety and the Global Plan. Read about how Deepanshu is involved in road safety and the role of the Decade of Action and the Global Plan in his efforts to further road safety and sustainable mobility.
1. How did you get involved with road safety?
Seven years back, my father was badly injured in a road crash. The crash was so bad that he was on complete bed rest for almost 18 months. It's still very excruciating for my family and myself to recall the emotional and financial trauma we went through. After that, I met a group of students who have also lost friends to road crashes. They were running some road safety awareness programs as a way to influence youth to become forerunners in road safety efforts. I started volunteering with them to start educating people. I also rallied behind policymakers to prioritize road safety actions. After my graduation, I worked at a human capital consulting firm as an associate for four months before I left to pursue road safety full time. Since then, there has been no looking back.
2. Do you think decision-makers are prioritizing road safety in their agendas?
Although the importance of road safety is recognized, I believe it still isn’t a top priority on their agendas. Many people work in road safety but at the end of the day, it’s a systemic issue and individual interventions can only go so far. There is a critical need for initiatives that are not only high-prioritized but also transparent and upfront to the public. Policies must be examined once they have been implemented and errors must be corrected.
The fact that the number of fatalities, which exceeds a million per year, has remained unchanged for the past two decades indicates that it is vital for decision-makers to address these concerns. The burden of road traffic injuries on families, states, and nations is something that should motivate decision-makers to prioritize road safety. There are young people out there who are passionate about this cause; local decision-makers should involve them in a meaningful way. The energy and the enthusiasm that youth can bring to this movement can definitely improve the situation.
3. What do you think is the role of the Decade of Action and the Global Plan in implementing road safety and sustainable mobility plans and policies?
The Decade of Action establishes an impact-oriented aim. The target of a 50% reduction in road traffic fatalities by 2030 is a paradigm shift that guides us to how we need to approach development. The Safe Systems approach acknowledges the possibility of human error which is a welcome addition to previous systems that focused on vehicles and infrastructure. The Global Plan brings everyone together under one roof, coordinating all initiatives that may otherwise be carried out in isolation. It emphasizes the importance of looking at multimodal types of infrastructure development in poor and middle-income nations, as well as fostering international development collaborations.
4. What do you think young people can do to achieve the targets set in the Decade of Action for Road Safety?
At a point when 73% of road crash mortality falls under the age group of 25, young people have a two-fold role in achieving the targets of the Decade Action Plan. Firstly, in order to reduce road crash mortality by 50%, youth need to actively reform their driving and pedestrian practices while also engaging in post-crash rescue and trauma care. One needs to increasingly reinvent their role as a responsible citizen to facilitate safer roads for all.
Secondly, given that the developing countries are particularly more vulnerable to road crashes and mortality owing to lower levels of income and development, youth can play an active role in lobbying for better, well-informed legislation by educating their peers and raising road safety awareness for the public. Youth can also form or join civil societies and collaborate with similar organizations to convince the state to actively invest in road safety. Spreading information about safe and sustainable transport and good pedestrian practices at grassroots levels can immensely contribute to the achievement of the targets in the New Decade.
5. What do you think youth can contribute to the Global Plan?
Since young people constitute the generation that will bear the brunt of uninformed laws and transportation reforms, they need to be actively involved in all reformation drives. Their needs, ideas, and demands need to be gathered and incorporated into laws and transportation structures. There needs to be a genuine effort to engage with young leaders and provide platforms for fresh perspectives. Apart from personally adopting safer transportation practices, youth are instrumental in holding grassroots-level awareness campaigns. They can also empower common people by collaborating with non-profit organizations and lobbying for better laws and overall state performances in enforcement and engineering. Most importantly, local decision-makers should see them as crucial stakeholders in decision-making and implementation.
6. How do you think the Global Plan or the Decade of Action for Road Safety connects with the Global Youth Statement for Road Safety?
Some of the primary points in the Global Youth Statement for Road Safety are the exclusion of youth as a major stakeholder in decision making, lack of education and awareness, and poorly designed policies and road infrastructure. The Global Plan, which encapsulates the core ideals of the New Decade of Action for Road Safety, has been instrumental in addressing these concerns. By calling for youth involvement in decision-making and by creating tools and opportunities to reach out to governments, the Global Plan recognizes the valuable contributions youth can make in the reform of the transportation agenda. The Plan emphasizes the role of civil societies and governments in spreading awareness regarding safer transit practices. Most importantly, it calls upon policymakers to explore the intersection of gender and social justice within transportation reforms to point out that informed policies are the key to bringing out changes on the ground.
7. What is your message for decision-makers and to young people around the following the launch of the global plan?
To the youth, let's keep claiming our space on all levels. Organize youth consultations, hold meetings with local decision-makers right after the launch of the Global Plan and find a meaningful way to engage with stakeholders. Use the Global Plan as a catalyst to prioritize youth action in road safety. Get involved and involve other fellow young people.
To the decision-makers, it's high time to realize that meaningful youth engagement in road safety can actually bring down road crashes and save lives. Let's not wait for the next five Global Plans and millions of other fatalities until you start believing in youth. Let's go above and beyond the global plan and save lives.