Traffic Crash Remembrance Day: Grieving Parents Urge Better Road Safety Policies
Zoleka Mandela lost her 13-year-old daughter in a car crash

Two parents who lost their children in car crashes urged governments to adopt better road safety policies on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Monday.

South African Zoleka Mandela’s daughter died in a Johannesburg crash on her 13th birthday, while Australian Peter Frazer’s 23-year-old daughter was killed by a truck on Hume Highway on her way to university.

“As a mother who lost her daughter to road traffic injury, I can tell you that the pain never goes away,” said Mandela, now the Global Ambassador for the Child Health Initiative.

Describing the rates of death and injury on our roads as “monstrously high”, Mandela – the granddaughter of iconic leader Nelson Mandela – said that solutions were completely within their grasp of governments. 

“Low-speed streets, particularly with a vulnerable and traffic mix; safe crossings and sidewalks; action on drink driving; safe vehicles and helmets,” said Mandela. “Road traffic injuries are predictable and preventable.”

She also called for “a shift from car dependence to zero-carbon active travel; a shift to public transportation cleaner air and lower CO2 emissions.

‘Drive so others survive’

Peter Frazer, Australian road safety advocate, lost his daughter in a car crash.

Frazer said that his daughter, Sarah, had broken down at the side of one of Australia’s major highways on her way to start studies as a photojournalist. A truck ploughed into her and a tow-truck driver, killing them both on a road that was too narrow to enable her to pull off safely.

“We must all drive as if our loved ones are on the road ahead. We must drive so others survive. We already have the technology and know-how to massively reduce trauma,” said Frazer, who started and leads the Safer Australian Roads and Highways (Sarah), in memory of his daughter.

Dr Etienne Krug, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director of the Department of the Social Determinants of Health, said that 1.3 million lives were lost every year in vehicle crashes.

The WHO launched its Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021 – 2030) late last month, which has the ambitious target of preventing at least 50% of road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030.

Abdulla Shahid, President of the United Nations, told the remembrance that, aside from deaths, around 50 million people were also injured in road crashes annually.

“Today, we pause to pay tribute to the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues whose lives were cut short,” said Shaid. “We remember those suffering from life-impacting injuries as a result of reckless driving and unsafe road systems. Each is an individual tragedy and a source of profound grief and pain.”

The UN will host a High-Level Meeting on global road safety from 30 June to 1 July 2022, preceded on 3 December by a planning meeting to be hosted by Shahid.



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