Thursday, 28 February 2013

Liberty International

We are delighted that Liberty International has taken on the mantle of Supporter of the Decade of Action from its Spanish affiliate, and increased its donation from $15,000 to $25,000 in 2013. We are most grateful for their support for our road injury prevention efforts.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Dying for an Education

Phal, in his school uniform, in January 2013
At least a million school-age children are seriously injured or killed every year. More are denied an education when family income is suddenly and dramatically reduced as a result of road injuries or fatalities to a parent or other breadwinner. At a policy meeting hosted by the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution this week we asked the question - why, when the data is so stark, the need so great, and cost-effective solutions are waiting to be implemented, why is child and adlosecent injury on the road still so neglected?

The same question was asked by the mother of seven year old Phal. We met Phal, who lives near Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2011 when we were making a documentary for the launch of the Decade of Action. His story, as we told it then, is sad and all too common. A precociously bright little boy, he wanted to go to school as soon as he could. Enrolled at age five, he was hit by a car while walking along the road between his home and the school (there was no sidewalk). He suffered some brain damage and other injuries as a result of the crash and lost the use of his legs.

Last month we went back to see how Phal, his mother Sok Chin Da, and his family are getting on. Returning to their simple home, reached by a dusty embankment off a road busy with a constant stream of construction trucks, the first thing to strike me was the continued absence of any sidewalk or separated verge, or any speed or school signs to warn the drivers that children might be around. The second was the big smile with which Phal greeted us.

Phal, now seven, is back in school. He likes music best (banging the drum) and wants to learn English. His mother has to push him to school in his wheelchair, because of the constant care he needs she hasn't been able to go back to work. The family income, already small, has further diminished. Phal practices walking for an hour a day on rudimentary parallel bars. His legs are somewhat stronger than two years ago, but it is clear that he will not be able to walk unaided. His mother worries about the future, as he grows too big for her to carry.

Sok Chin Da feels deserted by the authorities. The local traffic police chief, used to picking up the broken pieces of people's lives from the side of the road, is in her corner (and introduced us). But her requests to the road authorities for protection for other children in the area, for something as simple and cheap as a speed warning sign, have gone unanswered.

There are thousands of children like Phal who have similar, sad, stories. But their disabilities or early deaths are preventable. And you can do something right now to help prevent them. Campaign with us on the Long Short Walk, help us to support our partners who are working in local communities to provide safe routes to school and tackle other causes of road injury. And start by watching our new film, below, 'Dying for an Education'.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Safety advocates at UN Post-2015 Panel

Bright Oywaya and fellow activists at the UN Post-2015 High Level Panel in Liberia

Campaigners have advocated for road safety to be included in the post-2015 'sustainable development goal' (SDG) framework, at the UN High Level Panel consultative meeting held in Liberia. Staging a 'Long Short Walk' at the conference, Bright Oywaya, representing the Make Roads Safe campaign, spoke to High Level Panel members in a round table session of her experience of being disabled in a road crash, and of the need for road safety to be part of the next SDGs. To coincide with the meeting, an opinion survey of Liberians found that 'better roads and transport' was one of the top three priorities people there want the SDGs to address. Amongst young people in the West African country better roads and transport is the No. 1. priority.

The UN has launched an online consultation on the SDGs. Visit My World to add your voice. Please check the box for 'better roads and transport' and write-in 'Safer roads' as an extra priority.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

First ASEAN NCAP crash safety results

The Ford Fiesta achieved 5 stars in the ASEAN NCAP test
The first independent consumer car crash safety tests published in the ASEAN region have revealed a wide variation in safety performance by popular cars. The ASEAN NCAP (new car assessment programme) organised by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) published results of seven cars, with performance ranging from 5 stars - the Ford Fiesta and Honda City - to just one star, the Proton Saga. David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP, which co-financed the tests, said: “Consumers in the ASEAN region should expect the same levels of safety as people in regions that have established crash testing programmes. These results show that it’s perfectly possible to produce affordable cars with the top level of safety standards for emerging markets. However, the disparity with those models at the lowest end of the scale is worrying.”

Global NCAP and ASEAN NCAP are supported by the Road Safety Fund through a grant from the FIA Foundation.