“My grandfather, Nelson Mandela fought, for largely his entire life, for human rights, freedom, and equality for everyone in South Africa and the world. Now as a result of the tragedy that has befallen my family, and in the name of Zenani, we have a new fight. A fight for the right of young people around the world to walk, bike, and drive safely.” Kweku Mandela spoke those words at the United States launch of Global Youth Traffic Safety Month and the United Nations Global Road Safety Week on May 8 at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.
May 6-12 is the Second UN Global Road Safety Week, an international effort focusing on pedestrian safety. Around the world, pedestrian deaths make up one-fourth of all road fatalities.
A Global Effort
Over 100 countries are holding events to draw attention to the needs of pedestrians and provide the momentum to do more. The Long Short Walk is one such event, encouraging everyone to take a walk and at the same time call on government leaders to make safe walking a priority. It was developed as part of the Zenani Mandela Campaign for road safety. Zenani Mandela, Kweku Mandela’s niece, was killed in a car crash two days after celebrating her thirteenth birthday while coming home from the FIFA World Cup Kick Off Concert in Soweto, South Africa.
Around the world, motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children, adolescents and young adults aged 10-24. Here in the United States, 4,432 pedestrians were killed in 2011 and 69,000 were injured, representing 14 percent of all traffic fatalities and 3 percent of all people injured in traffic crashes.
According to Mr. Norman Mineta, Chairman of Make Roads Safe North America, during the Global Road Safety Week at least 30,000 individuals are taking the Long Short Walk with 60,000 miles already walked or promised to be walked.
The U.S. Kick Off for Pedestrian Safety
At the Jefferson Memorial, Mr. Mandela declared: “All of us have the right to safe roads and the first step begins today with our Long Short Walk. By walking together we are following in my grandfather’s footsteps and we are joining many young people around the world who are committing to the same goal.” Joining Mr. Mandela at the United States event were Dr.Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General; Mr. Michael Botticelli, Deputy Director of the ONDCP; Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC; Ms. Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the NTSB; Mr. Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Mr. Norman Mineta, Chairman of Make Roads Safe North America; Mr. Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the United States; and Mr. David Strickland, Administrator of NHTSA.
To join the Long Short Walk or find out more about it, click here.
Video Clip of the U.S. Launch
To watch excerpts from the U.S. Launch of Global Road Safety Week and Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, check out the video below.