Road Safety: Decade of Action Launch Brings International Attention
As a global transportation and logistics corporation, FedEx has more than 75,000 vehicles on the road each day. With this expansive network of drivers comes the responsibility to play a major role in keeping our global roads safe for all users. In 2000, FedEx collaborated with Safe Kids Worldwide to launch the Safe Kids Walk This Way program to create safer communities for child pedestrians. Recently, the United Nations launched a Decade of Action for Road Safety to raise awareness of the issue. Moira Donahue from Safe Kids Worldwide and Kristin Rosenthal from Safe Kids USA attended launch events and shared their experiences:
Moira Donahue, Director, International Operations and Safe Kids Walk This Way program, Safe Kids Worldwide
For over ten years, Safe Kids has made tremendous strides in the prevention of pedestrian-related injuries involving children. Through the Walk This Way program, sponsored by FedEx, we have led a number of initiatives that are engaging communities on this issue, such as educating parents on the risks and precautions needed to be taken during Halloween trick-or-treating or teaching safety tips to children on International Walk to School Day. Working in thousands of communities through Safe Kids coalitions, we’ve literally changed the landscape of neighborhoods to make them more safe and walk-able by adding cross walks or slow-zones near schools.
Walk This Way has experienced significant growth over the years through the addition of coalitions, increased participation from students, parents, schools and FedEx volunteers. Our efforts have expanded beyond domestic borders, and we are now reaching children and communities all around the globe, from Brazil to Vietnam.
In my international travels, I have witnessed first-hand the critical need for pedestrian safety education and injury prevention for children. It is a deadly epidemic deserving attention on a global scale, which is why I am optimistic about the Decade of Action for Road Safety, organized by the United Nations to address the 1.3 million deaths on the world’s roads each year.
The Decade of Action for Road Safety officially launched with great fanfare on May 11th in 110 countries around the world. National landmarks, such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia, Trafalgar Square in London and Times Square in New York were illuminated with the official yellow tag of the Decade of Action for Road Safety.
Dozens of the 300 registered launch events featured presidents or prime ministers, as well as prominent safety experts, industry nonprofits and government representatives from transportation and other related sectors.
I was fortunate to attend the launch event in Mexico City alongside representatives from 30 Latin American and Caribbean countries, with such notable public health leaders as Dr. Etienne Krug, Director of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability at World Health Organization, and Ms. Maria Fernanda Rodriquez, President of the Gonzalo Rodriguez Foundation, a pioneer for road safety for children in Uruguay. I spoke with sustainable transport experts from CTS Mexico and listened to an inspiring speech made by Mexico’s President, Mr. Felipe Calderon, who has great aspirations for Mexico over the next decade. I am looking forward to initiating a Safe Kids Mexico organization in Mexico City as soon as possible, which is being made possible through contributions from FedEx.
My experience at the Decade of Action for Road Safety launch in Mexico City impressed upon me the dedication of the countries and their active participation in the movement. There has been a marked increase in confidence in the collective support of the nations to make roads all around the world safer over the next ten years.
As we move forward with a renewed, global awareness for road safety issues, I am enthusiastic to share Walk This Way’s message of child pedestrian safety and injury prevention with even more communities around the world.
Kristin Rosenthal, Program Associate, Safe Kids USA
Having sustained serious injuries as a pedestrian in an auto related crash, the issue of road safety and injury prevention is of the utmost importance to me. I’ve made it my mission to educate both children and their parents on how they can protect themselves from preventable accidents, and I’ve spent over five years working with Safe Kids USA and Safe Kids Metro Detroit to do just that.
That’s why I was excited to have the opportunity to attend the U.S. launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety in Washington, D.C., which was an exciting summit of top national experts and organizations in safety and transportation.
It was inspiring to know we all came together to launch a movement that will help address the serious issue of child pedestrian accidents, which claim the lives of nearly 250 children and send 13,000 to the emergency room in the U.S. each year.
I had the opportunity to meet with other leaders in road safety and hear moving keynotes from such distinguished leaders as former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta; David Strickland, administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I also saw the unveiling of the Decade of Action’s creative public service announcement, which featured Grover from Sesame Street. As Walk This Way targets children directly, I appreciated how this PSA conveyed a simple but effective message of how children should cross the street safely.
As we embark on a renewed commitment to road safety in the U.S. and worldwide, I look forward to seeing these campaign elements and key players, including the Walk This Way program, serve a major role in reducing the number of children and families affected by preventable accidents. With an increase in international collaboration and greater awareness, I am confident we will make our communities a safer place for children.