#SaveKidsLives flashmob delivers Child Declaration in New York

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UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake
Jean Todt, UN Special Envoy on Road Safety and FIA President
Jean Todt, UN Special Envoy on Road Safety and FIA President
200 schoolchildren from New York City took part in a street dance for the #SaveKidsLives campaign
200 schoolchildren from New York City took part in a street dance for the #SaveKidsLives campaign
Dr. Etienne Krug, Director, Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO
Dr. Etienne Krug, Director, Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, WHO
New York Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, representing the city Mayor Bill de Blasio, received the Child Declaration for Road Safety
New York Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, representing the city Mayor Bill de Blasio, received the Child Declaration for Road Safety
#SaveKidsLives campaign ambassador Zoleka Mandela and Anthony Lake
#SaveKidsLives campaign ambassador Zoleka Mandela and Anthony Lake
Actress Michelle Yeoh
Actress Michelle Yeoh
Anthony Lake, Jean Todt and the FIA Foundation’s Saul Billingsley with the ‘Safe to Learn’ report
Anthony Lake, Jean Todt and the FIA Foundation’s Saul Billingsley with the ‘Safe to Learn’ report

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake has received the Child Declaration for Road Safety on behalf of the UN and led a #SaveKidsLives campaign ‘flashmob’ event in the centre of New York City on 5 May to mark UN Global Road Safety Week.

The #SaveKidsLives event was organised by UNICEF, the New York City Department of Transportation and the FIA Foundation. Alongside the UNICEF Executive Director were Jean Todt, the UN Special Envoy for Road Safety and FIA President, and Dr. Etienne Krug representing the World Health Organization.

Also leading the event were #SaveKidsLives campaign ambassador Zoleka Mandela, granddaughter of Nelson Mandela and Global Road Safety Ambassador, actress Michelle Yeoh. New York Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg represented the city Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The Child Declaration is at the centre of the #SaveKidsLives campaign and is being delivered to leaders at all levels – local, national and global – during the week. In the global event to hand over the Child Declaration, 200 schoolchildren from New York City took part in a street dance for the #SaveKidsLives campaign. The Declaration was delivered both globally to UNICEF and locally to New York City leaders.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake made a powerful call for urgent action: “shame on the world” for not doing more to protect children on the roads, he said addressing the campaign event: “The Child Declaration for Road Safety – which we launch today -- urges world leaders to take urgent and decisive action to stop the growing number of road injuries worldwide. Let’s work to make sure they listen – and act. So, please sign it. Let’s see the energy of that flash mob power this Declaration and bring it to life. Help us keep every child, in every country, safe on the roads today, tomorrow and always. Together we can and we will #SaveKidsLives.”

Jean Todt, UN Special Envoy on Road Safety and FIA President said: “Every single day more than 500 children are killed. Children are the most vulnerable in our society. Their protection must be our number one priority. In our Child Declaration for Road Safety, we call for new commitments to keep children safe around the world. Every child should have the right to a safe journey whether travelling to school, home or anywhere else. Today we urge governments to take new action and keep children safe.”

In a personal message to the event, Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “Far too many victims of traffic related injuries and fatalities are children and through my administration’s Vision Zero plan we are taking steps to make our streets safer for everyone. UNICEF has been a vital partner in these efforts on a global scale advocating for the protection of children on roads around the world,” he said. “I am proud to join with those gathered to renew our shared commitment to spread the word in our communities that injuries on the road are not inevitable and can be prevented.” Mayor de Blasio was represented at the event by New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The event took place out on the Flatiron Pedestrian Plaza in Manhattan, a leading example of infrastructure improvements for pedestrians. New York has made progress over the past year in reducing pedestrian casualties in particular through the Vision Zero strategy.

Representing the WHO, Dr. Etienne Krug, Director, Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention said: “We have the solutions, the strategies to keep children safe on the world’s roads. Measures like controlling speed, action on drink driving, helmets, safe vehicles and infrastructure. As the Child Declaration demands, we need to see these measures in place worldwide. Let’s listen to the children and act.”

Zoleka Mandela said: “People everywhere have been stepping forward with the #SaveKidsLives campaign. And they have been demanding action. All over the world, we’ve heard from families and communities who are scared for their children. Frightened when taking just a simple step out into the streets. Fearful when they set out for school in the morning. Terrified to brave the traffic home at night. We’ve heard from families who have suffered as my own family has suffered. Far too many of them. And all because their children were not protected on the roads. Today, we say, no more, this must stop! We look forward to a brighter future, where we join together to Save Kids Lives.”

Michelle Yeoh said: “The Child Declaration that has been presented today represents the hopes and expectations of millions of children across the world: Their hopes for safe journeys to school; for safe places where they can play; to be able to walk and cycle and ride the bus free from harm. Their expectations that we, as adults, as parents, as teachers and as policymakers, will heed their call. That we will take action to make roads safe for children everywhere. We must not let them down.”

So far worldwide, 100,000 people have signed up to support the Child Declaration, with thousands more signing up in support each day. Thousands of people in communities, NGOs and schools around the world have been holding #SaveKidsLives campaign events to deliver the Child Declaration to leaders in a mass global call for action. The Child Declaration urges world leaders to include a target to halve road traffic fatalities globally in the Post-2015 Development Goals, so that kids everywhere can be kept safe. It also calls for action to implement the life-saving measures needed to protect children on the world’s roads. The Declaration was written in consultation with children from around the world and is based on the best practice measures outlined in the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.

In the New York event, schools taking part included Manhattan’s Little Red School House, PS116, The Epiphany School. Brooklyn, PS10, PS261, PS69, MS51 and in Queens PS10. New York’s Vision Zero program has made progress on road safety. Casualty levels have been reduced recently, particularly for pedestrian. In 2014, 138 pedestrians were killed on the roads in New York compared with 180 fatalities in 2013. New York attributes the progress to the default 25 mph New York City speed limit (from 30mph in October 2014 legislation); and also to speed cameras. Infrastructure safety has also played a major part. At locations where the New York City Department of Transportation has implemented safety improvements (crossings, pedestrian zones, sidewalk improvement etc) since 2005, fatalities have decreased by 34%.

Globally, road traffic injury is a leading killer of children, and the number one killer of young people over 15 years old. A man-made epidemic of road traffic injury claims the lives of more than 500 children every day, with an estimated 10 million children injured on the world’s roads each year.

A joint global advocacy report, ‘Safe to Learn’ by the FIA Foundation and UNICEF launched ahead of the event sets out a strategy focusing on ensuring safe routes to schools as an important first step to building political and community support for wider road safety actions, and particularly for low speed regimes in urban and peri-urban areas where high concentrations of child pedestrians and cyclists interact with motorised traffic. The report, launched for UN Global Road Safety Week highlights examples of successful ‘safe to learn’ strategies in high and middle income countries, where significant investment of hundreds of millions of dollars has shown that streets can be made safer, creating conditions in which walking and cycling to school increases, as child casualties and vehicles speeds drop.

To support the #SaveKidsLives campaign visit www.savekidslives2015.org

Download copies of the ‘Safe to Learn’ report here

Watch the #SaveKidsLives film for UN Global Road Safety Week