Quick quiz: What's the number one cause of death for children ages 5 to 19 in the United States and around the world?
If you answered road crashes, you're exactly right.
In fact, every day, more than 500 children die on roads - on bikes, in vehicles, as pedestrians and in the simple act of walking to school. Tens of thousands more are injured, often with lasting disabilities. Without strong action, the global toll will explode as the number of vehicles on the roads and the number of people living in urban areas both expand dramatically in coming years. This means that more children will be in harm's way.
That's why the Third UN Global Road Safety Week is so important. Designated by the United Nations on May 4-10, Global Road Safety Week has a special focus on children.
Children have special needs when it comes to safety. Many nations lack laws requiring children to wear helmets while riding on motorcycles or bicycles, and only 30 percent of low-income countries have laws requiring that young children ride in car seats. The safety of school zones and school buses is often overlooked, and data collection on children is lacking.
Safe Kids Worldwide is proud to join our partners in providing strong support for the #SaveKidsLives campaign, which is centered on reading, signing, sharing, and delivering the Child Declaration on Road Safety. The Declaration calls on policymakers at all levels to take strong actions to improve safety for children.
You can support this effort right now by reading and signing the Child Declaration at www.savekidslives2015.org.
Today, Safe Kids Worldwide held a Global Road Safety Week event in which students at Shepherd Elementary School in Washington, D.C. delivered signed copies of the Child Declaration to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, calling on them to make critically needed changes to improve safety. Both are leaders on this issue and are pledging their strong support.
Safe Kids Worldwide is also working with our longtime partners at FedEx to sponsor more than 60 Global Road Safety Week events across the United States and in more than 18 nations around the world in which policymakers will be called on to make critical safety improvements. And with the support of the GM Foundation, Safe Kids entered into a partnership with Scholastic to send Teacher Guides on the #SaveKidsLives campaign into 150,000 U.S. classrooms and to reach millions more teachers and parents online.
For policymakers responding to these calls for action, there's good news: We know what will keep kids safe. Reducing speed, cracking down on drinking and driving, using helmets on bikes and motorcycles, restraining children in vehicles and establishing safe school zones are all incredibly important steps that will prevent injuries and save lives.
Nearly everyone in the world uses some form of transport, whether it is walking, a bicycle, a motorcycle or a motor vehicle. There is an enormous constituency that can be cultivated to demand action, particularly when we can rally around the urgency of saving children's lives.
Global Road Safety Week is a time to inspire real change. We need everyone to sign the UN's Child Declaration and then we need policymakers to identify this issue as a priority, heed the plea of children worldwide, and support strong laws and tough enforcement.
We urge the entire world community to join us in making this a moment of true progress in creating a safer future for our children -- and for all of us.