Every year on December 10 we celebrate Human Rights Day. This day deserves our attention as it marks the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. Today it is more important than ever to recall that human rights are universal and indivisible and that our efforts to defend them can never stop.
Road safety is a human rights issue. It is time we start treating it as such.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 1,35 million people die each year and as many as 50 million are injured on the world’s roads. Given that most road crash deaths and serious injuries are preventable, road safety and access to safe and sustainable transport systems must be considered a global human rights issue. Why?
The adopted and proclaimed UDHR states within Article 3 that ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.’ Therefore, we have a social and moral responsibility to design our products, environment, and laws so that people can easily and conveniently behave in a safe manner without sacrificing their right to earn a living and fulfill their other societal obligations. It is thus necessary to promote in clear and explicit terms the right of people to live in a world safe from harmful injuries as a fundamental human right.
There is general agreement on the urgent need to control morbidity and mortality, especially because injuries are ranked as one of the highest causes of years of life lost in most countries around the world. Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years. Yet road deaths have become natural and even part of life – as if it were okay that by the end of reading this prologue another 10 people will die on roads.
As Matthew Baldwin, European Commission, Department of Mobility and Transport, stated during the RADAR project join the conference with project SABRINA and ESUDR PA1b: “Do not let people tell you that road accidents just happen and that fatalities are inevitable consequences of drivers’ errors. We know and have the methods to prevent mistakes, leading to lost lives and serious injuries.”
The growing global epidemic of road traffic deaths and injuries can only be addressed with a combination of government commitment, civil society engagement, and private sector participation.
The theme of this year’s Human Rights Day is ‘Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights’. This calls for us to look back to the origins of modern human rights law and draw upon the principles of shared humanity and global solidarity in the response to Covid-19.
Considering that the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide is comparable with the Road Fatality pandemic we need to work together to keep the goal of saving lives on roads high on the agenda of decision-makers not only in participating countries but across the world, as well.
After all, road safety has been in the background for too long.