A multi-lane highway with a speed limit exceeding 70 mph, a dirt road without shoulders or protective barriers, and a city street where child pedestrians and cyclists share space with cars, buses, trucks, and motorcycles can be among the most dangerous places in the world.
Tawia Addo-Ashong in her blog post of April 13 , is right to underline the catastrophic human toll from road traffic crashes, especially in the developing world. This is what led the United Nations General Assembly to declare the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 .
This is also why, in my work at Safe Kids Worldwide , I spend a lot of my time focusing on injuries children sustain on the world’s roads. Safe Kids is a network of NGOs in 21 countries with the mission of preventing unintentional injuries to children. The challenge to protect children is significant because road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among 10 to 19 year-olds globally. Of the more than 1.3 million people killed on the world’s roads annually, 260,000 are children and teenagers.
Safe Kids is committed to helping achieve the goal of preventing the loss of five million lives during the Decade. Our members contribute through grassroots action, as well as advocacy for national and local legislation requiring:
- children 12 and under to ride properly restrained in the back seat of motor vehicles,
- kids to wear helmets while on bicycles and motorcycles,
- affordable child safety seats and boosters to meet crash-worthy industry standards,
- roads to be designed so kids don’t compete with cars for safe places to walk or ride bicycles
We encourage the enforcement of these laws; collect data and promote its use in awareness campaigns so the public recognizes risks they face on the road; and train children and adults how to be safer road users.
I’m excited to participate in the upcoming panel co-hosted by Safe Kids Worldwide and the World Bank Global Road Safety Facility to talk about the role civil society organizations can play to achieve the goals of the Decade (watch the live webcast on April 18 ).
As a member of the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety (GANGORS) Board of Directors, I get to collaborate with organizations outside the Safe Kids network that work for road safety and on behalf of road traffic injury victims. There are tremendous efforts taking place all over the world every day but these actions are often unsynchronized and as a result, their individual impact is not as great as their potential.
GANGORS aims to be a coordinating body for hundreds of likeminded NGOs and contribute to the influence and visibility of their initiatives. While the Alliance is newly established, 100 NGOs have already applied for membership and the Board is developing a website (http://www.roadsafetyngos.org/ ) with interactive resources for NGOs and stakeholders, planning the Third Global Meeting of NGOs Advocating for Road Safety and Road Victims, and working to coordinate global advocacy efforts.
As one of our first efforts, together with the World Health Organization we are releasing Advocating for road safety and road traffic injury victims: a guide for nongovernmental organizations  on April 18 to offer ideas for the types of initiatives nongovernmental organizations might conduct, with a series of related checklists, and case studies from around the world.
Guest blogger Moira Donahue is the director of international operations for Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations with a mission to prevent unintentional childhood injury, a leading cause of death and disability for children ages 14 and under.