Dynamic youth voices took centre stage at the global conference on road safety this February this year, at the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
Their demand was simple; “enough is enough,” to the empty promises and statements from world leaders and going forward, the youth want to see more actions to words towards eliminating road crashes to zero.
Though preventable, road crashes account for one of the world’s leading deaths (1.25 million killed in crashes. On average, 3287 die in a day) and between 20-50 million are injured or disabled through mobility. Majority of affected crash victims are between five to 29 years who are killed or injured while on their way to school or returning home.
The Co-chair of the 2nd World Youth Assembly for Road Safety (YOURS), Omnia El- Omrani and Project Manager- World Youth Assembly, Raquel Barrios who represent the current generation of voices at the Stockholm conference, demanded urgent action towards securing their future against needless injuries and deaths from road crashes.
“Today I stand in front of you with the global message “enough is enough.” We will no longer tolerate any more of young people dying on the world’s worst roads. As young people especially from low, middle income countries we have dream and the impacts of road crashes on our families and communities can be severe. We therefore demand safer and sustainable transport systems. We need your help. Today we are claiming our space at the decision making table. We are here and no longer expect being marginalized, but instead we want everyone to treat us equally as we work together towards realizing the global goals,” Omnia reiterated.
The third ministerial road safety conference, which aimed towards achieving global goals 2030, brought together various actors; politicians, technocrats including road designers and engineers, representatives from Civil Society Organizations and automobile manufacturers among others renewed their commitment to ensuring safety of transport, roads users and other pedestrians in more sustainable manner over the next decade.
For the on the go youth, numbering over 100 from different nationalities who participated alongside 1600 others in the two day conference, they just didn’t want policies that only remained on paper, but in addition to the niceties, governments should take steps to providing safer road infrastructure and transports that consider the needs of all including persons with disabilities and children.
The world youth assembly equally wanted road traffic offenders to be severely punished as deterrent to others. Above all, the youth demanded that they are made to be a part of the solution in order not to suffer of such consequences of the inactions of others.
According to young Ms. Barrios “there has been progress in the last decade of action, nevertheless, why don’t we see same level of progress reflected in the road traffic crashes.
Are we missing something, are we going to do exactly the same thing and expect different results?” was the question she had posed.
“Our peers keep dying on the roads. We are tired of false commitments that road traffic incidents were going to be halved by 2020 and here we are extending the deadline to 2030.
The youth are saying enough is enough. We want to the last generation to face this global mobility crisis. It is time to wake up. We the youth will also play our part as active citizens. We want to be part of the solution by being active at the decision making table. This will help shape better policies that sincerely considers our needs,” the youth advocate concluded.
Story by:Nelson Adanuti Nyadror.
Back from Stockholm, Sweden. This was made possible through the International Center for Journalists’ Road Safety 2020 Reporting Fellowship.