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Vital Stories

If These Roads Could Talk: Eight Cities Honor Victims of Road Crashes on World Day of Remembrance

Elias Worku was waiting next to a road for a car to pick him up and take him home. Suddenly, a car swerved and hit Elias, killing him instantly. Police told Elias’ brother, Binyam Worku, the driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. Since that day, Binyam won’t get into a car if he suspects the driver was drinking. He’s also made it his personal mission to ensure others take the same precautions.

Binyam’s story has been shared widely in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia through a media campaign to deter people from drink driving. “Our family doesn’t expect my brother to come home,” he says to the camera. “But your family and other families expect you to come home safely.”

Binyam’s testimonial is one of the countless stories of loss from road traffic crashes, which kill over 1.3 million people globally every year, and are the leading killer of the world’s youth. During this year’s World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, eight of the 10 cities participating in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) planned a series of activities to honor the victims of road traffic crashes and their families.

From art installations in Bogotá, Colombia, to citywide billboard campaigns in Mumbai, India, to a memorial in Addis Ababa, where Elias died, each participating city called for more action on road traffic crash prevention.

Highlights from World Remembrance Day 2018:

In Bogotá, Colombia, citizens gathered in the center of the city alongside families who have been affected by road crashes to honor lives lost. Secretary of Mobility Juan Pablo Bocarejo unveiled artwork constructed from car parts from crashes as candles were placed around these memorials.

Citizens in Bogotá gather at the Museo Nacional in the city center to commemorate lives lost on the roads by sharing stories of loved ones lost and lighting candles in their memory

A new media campaign in Mumbai, India, launched on Nov. 17, imploring proper helmet use to save lives in the event of a crash. At the event, a victim shared his story of survival after he had properly worn a helmet during a crash.

New billboard campaign in Mumbai promotes proper helmet use

In Accra, Ghana, Mayor Mohammed Adjei Sowah visited crash victims at the Accra Regional Hospital, sharing his own story of surviving a motorbike crash and experience of life-long back pain as a result. There, the mayor spoke with victims and their family members in an emotional day.  

Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, visits crash victims at the Accra Regional Hospital


Mayor Sowah provides opening remarks before his visit to Accra Regional Hospital

In Bangkok, Thailand, Nucharee Hemraj shared her crash story in the media, detailing a crash she experienced as a passenger on a motorcycle. She only survived because she was wearing a properly strapped helmet. The crash, caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol, left her disabled, but today she works at a call center for the Road Accident Victims Protection Company. The heartfelt recounting urged all road users to properly wear helmets and never drink and drive.

Nucharee Hemraj at a call center for the Road Accident Victims Protection Company in Bangkok

In Fortaleza, Brazil, local artists installed urban art at a school located on what was one of the deadliest roads in the city until early 2018 when the speed limit on the road was reduced. In a community that has experienced tragedy on the roads, the mural pays homage to loved ones lost. The mural commemorates the 256 deaths on all of the city’s roads in 2017, and serves as a lasting reminder that continued action is needed to prevent needless death.

Artists pay tribute to victims in Fortaleza with a mural installation

Citizens and family members of road traffic victims gathered in downtown Bandung, Indonesia, to commemorate lost loved ones. The group marched 300 meters down the streets, and laid flowers at a memorial honoring lives lost. 

Victims and supporters march through the streets of in Bandung

In Shanghai, China, the Shanghai Health Promotion Committee and Traffic Police will join forces on Nov. 25, a local Road Safety Day, to invite victims to speak about their experiences with road traffic crashes. They will focus on what life-saving measures can prevent future loss, including the importance of e-bike safety and helmet use.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the city will hold a memorial event on Dec. 4 honoring lives lost on the road. Citizens will gather with victims and family members to share stories, vowing to make the roads safer for all.

As an implementing partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety, Vital Strategies is providing technical assistance to all 10 of the cities with the goal of preventing road traffic deaths and injuries and make roads safer by tackling four risky behaviors–lack of seat-belt and helmet use, speeding and drink driving–through communication, data surveillance and coordination efforts.  

To learn more about Vital Strategies’ work in road safety, visit:

About the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety

The Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) works with the world’s leading road safety organizations to implement road safety activities and coordinate with in-country governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. BIGRS places an emphasis on achieving outcomes, and on using high-quality monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to continually assess progress.