FIA Foundation advocates for safe routes to school at Columbia University event
On April 25, Columbia University held an event, “Road Safety in NYC and Beyond: Global Advances and Challenges.” The event brought together experts in road safety locally and globally to discuss how many lives have been saved, and the urgent need to save many more.
The panel began with a presentation about the success of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. “The Decade of Action represents the intersection of transportation and public health – the need to build safer vehicles and safer roads, improve road user behavior, data quality, and emergency response,” said Dr. Joyce Pressley, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Health Policy Management, and Director of the Department of Epidemiology Practicum Program at Columbia University. “The Decade of Action led to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to by 2020, half the number of deaths and injuries on the roads,” she said.
FIA Foundation US Manager Natalie Draisin continued the discussion, urging the audience to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal by focusing on youth. “You’ve all been in a school bus – now picture 10 school buses. Picture them falling off a cliff, every single day. That’s how many children we lose on our roads every day - 500. And for every child that’s killed, 4 are permanently disabled, and 10 more are seriously injured.” The FIA Foundation and its partners are dedicated to protecting children, and decreasing the daily death toll. To highlight the issue, the Foundation co-authored a report, Safe to Learn, with UNICEF, available at the event.
“Each one of those 500 deaths, every day, is preventable, and that’s why we launched the #SaveKidsLives campaign.” The campaign, co-led by children and the world’s road safety experts, demands action to halve road deaths by 2020. Last year, the campaign received one million signatures, and ten million views on its famous video by Luc Besson. “This year, we want to turn those signatures into action. We’re calling for five proven measures that need urgent action.” she said. The five areas are: a safe journey to school for every child including safe roads and speed management around every school; safe school transport including seatbelts on all school buses; motorcycle helmets for all children where two-wheelers are the main family transport; vehicles safe for children and action to promote child restraints; and enforcement and action against drink-driving.
Other panelists included Juan Martinez, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the New York City Department of Transportation, and Dr. Guohua Li, Interim Chair and Professor of Epidemiology. Mr. Martinez focused on the success of Vision Zero in New York City, and the effectiveness of lowering speed limits in reducing crashes. Dr. Li emphasized the success of the Safe Routes to School Program in New York, which has been associated with a net societal benefit of $230 million and 2,055 quality adjusted life years gained in New York City. FIA Foundation US Advisor Tom Louizou was also present, and shared his firsthand experience in reducing crashes in New York, as former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Region 2 Administrator.
At the end of the event, Dr. El-Sadr asked, “If you could focus on one thing around the world that would have the greatest impact, what would it be?” Draisin responded, “safe routes to school for all children.”