Washington D.C. hosts rallying call to "Save Kids’ Lives"
The Obama Administration has committed to support road safety in the ‘Post-2015’ agenda at a major conference on child road safety in Washington D.C.
In a keynote address to the ‘Safe Kids – Safe Roads’ conference organised by Safe Kids Worldwide with support from the FIA Foundation, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx endorsed the global ‘#SaveKidsLives’ campaign and pledged US support for including road safety in the new Sustainable Development Goals to be agreed by the United Nations in 2015. In a speech which focussed on the need to improve infrastructure for walking and cycling in the US and around the world, Secretary Foxx said:
“Walking or bicycling might not be everyone’s primary way to get around. But they are about the only way children get around whether they’re at play or heading somewhere without an adult who drives. And that’s even more true in other countries. So the Obama Administration supports the inclusion of “road safety” in the UN’s Post-2015 Development Agenda to draw more attention and resources to this critical issue.“
Other keynote speakers at the conference, which was hosted by Safe Kids CEO Kate Carr, included global road safety ambassadors Michelle Yeoh and Zoleka Mandela; the new Transport Global Practice Director for the World Bank, Pierre Guislan; and FIA President Jean Todt.
In his speech Mr Todt issued a call for action to protect children around the world:
“In the early 60's John Kennedy decided the US would put a man on the moon within 10 years, and made it a national cause. What if we were to pick another moon today, decide to reach it before the end of the Decade, and make it a global cause? Only our moon, for each of us, would be the school next door. And depending on our role, we would ask our city leader, our district leader, out national leader, to make it their local, regional, national cause. With a simple target: by 2020, no more kids hit within a school zone.”
Zoleka Mandela described seeing schoolchildren in her native South Africa trying to cross busy roads to get to school. In her speech to the conference she told delegates:
“All over the world children are put in harms’ way. They are not given the protection they need. We know the answers: safe crossings to school, seatbelts and helmets, action to tackle speeding and drink driving. These solutions are right there in front of our eyes. It gives new meaning to the phrase ‘painfully obvious’: there is too much pain. And the answers are so obvious.”
The main focus of the conference, which saw the official US launch of the #SaveKidsLives campaign, was on rallying support for action in 2015 to include a road safety target in the Sustainable Development Goals, greater political commitment to children’s road safety and a strong declaration for real momentum in the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety at the Brasilia High Level Conference on global road safety in November 2015.
Michelle Yeoh told the conference about the momentum she had witnessed earlier that week in Cambodia:
“This week I joined the launch of an exciting new motorcycle helmet safety campaign in Cambodia. It is funded by the U.S. government, with co-funding by the FIA Foundation and UPS Foundation. Cambodia's parliament has just approved a new traffic safety law requiring all motorcycle passengers, including children, to wear crash helmets. The new campaign will support the new legislation. This is one real and tangible example of national progress to save kids’ lives. It shows that, given time, commitment and strong partnerships, much can be achieved. It is this kind of energy, and this kind of example, that we must take to the Global Ministerial Conference on road safety in Brasilia next November. In the months leading up to this Ministerial we must be ambitious in our expectations. Business as usual is not an option, when business as usual means unsafe roads and a daily toll of 500 dead children.”
The growing momentum for action to protect children on the world’s roads was in evidence in a session on ‘Building a Movement - The Rights of the Child & the Post-2015 Agenda’ chaired by FIA Foundation Director General Saul Billingsley. The session heard from Save the Children USA’s Vice President for Education & Child Development, Daniel Stoner, on the organisation’s new road safety activities in Thailand and Indonesia. It also saw the announcement of a new global partnership between the FIA Foundation and UNICEF, the UN Children’s Agency ,which will work to develop advocacy and national programmatic activity. Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Director & Senior Adviser on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, said:
“ We look forward to the Third UN Global Road Safety Week with its theme of road safety for children, and to participating in the worldwide ‘Save Kids Lives’ campaign. This is a campaign with an incredibly positive message, one which makes a strong call to support the measures needed to save children’s lives on the world’s roads. This is a call to action for all of us. We look forward to joining the FIA Foundation and partners in supporting and promoting the interventions needed on the ground to save lives.”
At the conference, held on December 11-12 2014 at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington D.C., Safe Kids Worldwide launched a new report which surveyed 6,000 parents in six countries: Brazil, China, India, Qatar, South Africa and the United States. The research finds that more than half of parents in five of the six countries say they are concerned about their child’s safety when walking to school, and more than 90 percent of parents surveyed in five countries agree that more needs to be done to improve road safety for children in their community. Safe Kids’ CEO Kate Carr also announced a new partnership with educational supplier Scholastic, supported by the GM Foundation, to take the #SaveKidsLives campaign to schools across the US to raise awareness amongst children about global road safety. Delegates also participated in a mass ‘Safie’ photo to promote the campaign.