More than two deaths per minute.
That’s how often lives are extinguished in a traffic crash, according to the World Health Organization.
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for young people aged 5-29, and the 12th leading cause of death across all ages, according to the World Health Organization. Every year, approximately 1.19 million people lose their lives to road crashes, and millions more are injured.
Observed every year on the third Sunday of November, the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is a high-profile global event to remember the many millions who have been killed and seriously injured on the world’s roads and acknowledge the suffering of all affected victims, families and communities.
World Day of Remembrance is an important tool for governments and those committed to road safety. It is an annual opportunity to demonstrate the enormous scale and impact of road deaths and injuries, raise awareness among the public and in the media, and advocate for concerted action to stop these largely preventable tragedies. In 2023, the day focused on highlighting the human stories behind road safety data, and advocating for action to prevent many deaths and serious injuries, particularly among pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.
Around the world, Vital Strategies supported activities in cities and countries where we work as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Global Initiative for Road Safety, to honor the memory of those who lost their lives and to push for policies that can stop these largely preventable tragedies from happening.
While each community chooses how toremember the victims of road traffic crashes and promote road safety, the activities not only recognize the emotional and economic devastation caused by road crashes, but they also convene stakeholders—local authorities, survivors, media and civil society groups—to work collectively for safer roads.
Here are some of the highlights of the 2023 World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
Argentina (Córdoba and Buenos Aires)
Throughout November, the city of Córdoba carried out activities to commemorate World Day of Remembrance. The city shared social media content highlighting the burden caused by road crashes, and relatives of the victims gathered for a Catholic mass that was held in the main cathedral, followed by the release of symbolic yellow balloons in commemoration of victims’ day. City landmarks were also lit in yellow.
The city also launched a new data report and a new media campaign, “Slow Down, Someone Is Always Waiting For You.” Supported by Vital Strategies, the campaign involved representatives from municipal health, mobility, and enforcement departments, who shared on postcards heartfelt reasons why they would like to return home. In Buenos Aires, iconic landmarks were also lit in yellow.
Bangladesh (Chattogram and Dhaka North)
The Chattogram City Corporation observed World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims for the first time, with support from the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety and Vital Strategies. Family members of three policemen killed in three different road crashes in Chattogram were among the presenters at a round table organized by the municipal authority, along with the mayor and police commissioner.
The Dhaka North City Corporation staged a photo exhibition depicting the heart-wrenching real stories of those affected by road crashes, to serve as a reminder of the human toll behind road crash statistics. Speaking at the event, the mayor reaffirmed his commitment to improving road safety in the city.
Brazil (Campinas, Recife, Salvador, São Paulo state)
In Recife, 105 lives were lost in traffic crashes during 2022, an increase of almost 20% over the previous year. City authorities used the World Day of Remembrance to launch the city’s new annual road safety report and highlight the importance of road safety with an outdoor display of motorcycles that were battered and broken from traffic crashes.
The city of Campinas used the occasion to launch its 2022 annual crash report, with the participation of the president of the traffic agency and family members of road crash victims. To symbolize the number of people who list their lives in road crashes in 2022, 151 white roses were distributed to drivers and pedestrians, and 151 candles were placed in front of a banner honoring the victims. The city also coordinated with local soccer teams to share key messages during matches for the Brazilian Soccer Championship held in the city.
The World Day of Remembrance in Salvador was marked by a symbolic event in the candle-lit Praça do Farol da Barra, which aimed to raise awareness among authorities and the public of the number of deaths and injuries that occur on city’s roads. Traffic agents and families of victims paid tribute to the 111 people who lost their lives in Salvador in 2022. During the event, the city, in partnership with Vital Strategies, presented the main highlights of the 2022 Road Safety Annual Report.
Between 2018 and October 2023 in São Paulo State, nearly 30,000 people lost their lives on the roads. Nearly 40% of these deaths were caused by collisions, and over a quarter involved pedestrians. To shine a light on these preventable tragedies, Vital partners in São Paulo produced an emotional video with the son of a woman who lost her life in a hit-and-run road crash.
Colombia (Bogota and Cali)
Bogota´s secretary of mobility and civil society representatives spoke at an outdoor event to shed light on the high number of road traffic fatalities. In addition to a presentation of the city’s new road safety plan, the ceremony included a moment of silence for the 536 lives lost on Bogota’s roads in 2022.
In Cali, stakeholders from local government and family members placed flower bouquets at 20 locations along the city’s Suroriental Highway, the road where the highest number of road traffic deaths occurred. The event included remarks from the secretary of mobility.
Ecuador (Guayaquil and Quito)
In Guayaquil, the number of deaths from traffic crashes rose 30% in 2022, highlighting the urgency to address road safety. Vital Strategies collaborated with the city of Guayaquil to organize the World Day of Remembrance event, which was held in a central plazain the downtown area. Opening with testimony from victims, the program included an update on the most recent data on road crashes in the city and the placement of sunflowers representing each of the 236 people who died in 2022. The general manager of the Traffic Agency of Guayaquil announced a lower speed limit for one of city’s street with a high number of road crashes.
Quito organized an event at Plaza Grande, one of the main squares in the city center. Around 150 people—among them family members, civil society representatives and government officials—gathered at a memorial that incorporated a visual installation representing each of the 234 lives lost in 2022. People placed flowers and family photos to honor those lost in traffic crashes. Four participants—a fireman, a paramedic, a police officer, and a mother who lost her son in a crash—shared their stories. Each testimony focused on the need to improve road safety, slow down and not drive under the influence of alcohol, and called for greater action from the authorities. The city also lit its main monuments in yellow to raise awareness of the burden that road crashes inflict upon the whole community.
Ethiopia (Addis Ababa)
In Addis Ababa, government officials, civil society partners, community members, the media and other stakeholders marched from the country’s busiest bus station to Abet Hospital, one of Ethiopia’s biggest trauma centers. At the hospital, the Traffic Management Authority director general gave remarks, along with other stakeholders. Drivers and victims of road crashes shared their experiences, and there was a presentation on risk factors that focused on the impact of speeding and actions being taken to save lives.
India: (Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka States and Pune)
For World Day of Remembrance, the Maharashtra Highway State Police and Pune Police collaborated on a campaign reminding drivers of the dangers of speeding. “Speeding Can Cost a Family Its Future: Story of Narkars” tells the story of a grieving father whose 24-year-old son lost his life due to speeding. The campaign video aired in cinemas and was promoted on streaming platforms. Police in Mumbai and Pune hosted the campaign’s press launches, which were attended by high-ranking officials and garnered extensive media attention.
Karnataka State also launched a mass media campaign to mark World Day of Remembrance. The campaign, “The High Cost of Speeding: Story of Purushottama,” tells the story of a man who was struck by a speeding driver, leaving him with a life-altering disability. The Minister of Transport and Religious Affairs at the Karnataka State Road Safety Authority led the launch event, which included messaging on the devastating outcomes of speeding and the importance of obeying speed limits.
To highlight the impact of speeding and road crashes on families and communities, Mombasa County, alongside key stakeholders, including the National Transport and Safety Authority, conducted a symbolic walk through Mombasa. Participants carried placards with messages of remembrance and road safety awareness, and crash survivors shared their stories and emphasized shared responsibility in making roads safer for all. Caravans also moved through the city spreading road safety messages and engaging with drivers and pedestrians about responsible road behavior.
Mexico (Guadalajara, Mexico City)
In Guadalajara, where pedestrians and motorcyclists account for 76% of all traffic fatalities, World Day of Remembrance events included the launch of “Don´t Risk It,” a campaign developed by the governments of the cities of Guadalajara and Zapopan and the state of Jalisco, with support from Vital Strategies. The campaign responds to the pressing need to address motorcycle safety, particularly focusing on speeding and how it increases the risk of fatalities. The campaign ran for three weeks on TV, radio, digital media and billboards.
Road safety stakeholders—including municipal agencies, citizen collectives and family members—also used the occasion to inaugurate a memorial for crash victims: a mural painted by a local artist located at one of the intersections with the highest number of injuries and fatalities in 2022.
Mexico City, with support from Vital Strategies, commemorated the day by illuminating government buildings and monuments in yellow in remembrance of lives lost on the roads.
Convening the Ministry of Works and Transport, Ministry of Health, Uganda National Roads Authority, Uganda Red Cross, Safe Way Right Way, Uganda Professional Drivers’ Network, and road safety champions, World Day of Remembrance events in Kampala included a blood donation drive, a road safety walk, and personal testimonies from crash survivors to highlight the real-life impact of road crashes.
The Vietnam National Traffic Safety Committee issued a statement on its social media commemorating World Remembrance Day, and held an event chaired by the Vice Prime Minister of Vietnam that was broadcast on national television.
Vital Strategies is an implementing partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), a consortium carrying out proven road safety interventions in 15 countries and up to 30 cities around the world. The initiative’s comprehensive, evidence-based approach includes: strengthening legislation; addressing key risky road behaviors with a focus on speeding; promoting infrastructure improvements and sustainable urban transportation; and advocating for improved vehicle safety standards. Click here to learn more about Vital Strategies’ work on road safety.
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