Pope Francis endorses #SaveKidsLives campaign for child safety on the road
His Holiness Pope Francis has given his support to the global #SaveKidsLives campaign, which draws attention to the 500 lives of children lost in road traffic crashes each day and urges action to reduce this preventable toll.
The Pope was briefed on the aims of the campaign in a private audience at the Vatican with Jean Todt, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, and Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Angelo Sticchi Damiani, President of the Automobile Club d’Italia (ACI) and Michelle Yeoh, global road safety ambassador, also attended.
Jean Todt outlined the road safety challenge and the need for governments and communities to prioritise road safety, beginning with putting in place effective traffic regulations. He showed Pope Francis a short advocacy film directed by Luc Besson entitled “Save Kids Lives”, produced in support of the #SaveKidsLives campaign, which draws attention to the 500 children, one every three minutes, who are killed every day on the world’s roads, by encouraging people to sign the Child Declaration on Road Safety. His Holiness Pope Francis showed great interest for the cause and signed in support of the campaign.
According to the WHO, every year 1.25 million people die as a result of road crashes, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, and 20 to 50 million more are injured, sometimes permanently. Road crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29, and could soon become the leading cause of death among 5-14 year-olds as well. Half of those dying on the world’s roads are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. The international community has built new momentum to address this issue: the Sustainable Development Goals that were recently adopted by the UN General Assembly include the target to halve road traffic deaths and injuries by 2020, but much remains to be done to achieve this ambitious target.
UN Special Envoy Jean Todt said: "We warmly thank His Holiness for his time today to discuss road safety. Road crashes are one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. They disproportionately affect the poorest countries and the most vulnerable in our communities. Pope Francis’ support of the #SaveKidsLives campaign will help raise awareness of the 500 children who lose their lives every day on the world’s road and help us spread the message that this tragedy can be prevented.”
UNECE Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach said: “His Holiness was strong in his support for the Sustainable Development Goals, which include the target to halve road fatalities by 2020. We know how to prevent crashes and improve road safety. Most road crashes can be avoided, but this requires that countries step up their efforts to ratify and fully implement the UN road safety conventions. This could save millions of lives by 2020 and beyond. The strong interest from His Holiness in improving road safety to save lives is very welcome”.