Making roads safe for kids

ANNA BISARO

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ABOUT 1 000 children across the globe die every day from a road-related accidents.

Almost two years ago, Zoleka Mandela joined thousands of mothers mourning the loss of a child on the road when her daughter Zenani was killed on the way home from watching a pre-World Cup concert at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

Yesterday Zoleka and her mother Zindzi – Nelson Mandela’s daughter – stood at the Pierre Hotel in New York City alongside mayor Michael Bloomberg, the world’s leading road-safety philanthropist, and called for action with the launch of the Zenani Mandela campaign. “So much can be done to save young lives,” Zindzi Mandela said. “We can, and we must, do much more to protect our children.”

Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele was also at the launch.

Ndebele has helped push for other pedestrian-safety initiatives in SA. While the new campaign is international, he expects large support from the SA community.

“Pedestrians alone account for nearly 40 percent of road fatalities in our country annually,” he said. “The Zenani Mandela campaign aims to protect children on the roads and reduce the number of child road fatalities and injuries.”

The campaign also aims to increase protection for young children on the road, especially in developing countries.

Led by the Mandela family, the Make Roads Safe campaign, and the Road Safety Fund, the Zenani Mandela campaign will contribute to the UN decade of action for road safety (2011 to 2020). “We’re calling on countries to come up with programmes that specifically target children,” said Ndebele’s spokesman, Logan Maistry.

Road accidents are the biggest killer of youths aged between 10 and 24. It is predicted that in the next three years, road accidents will become a major health burden for children over five in developing countries. “By 2015, road crashes will be the number one killer of children aged five to 14 in Africa, outstripping malaria and HIV/Aids,” Ndebele said.

Campaign strategies include investment in walking and cycling paths, stricter legislation enforcing seatbelt and booster-seat laws, mandatory helmet standards and minimum safety standards for all cars. The campaign will also fight against drinking and driving.

The strategies would vary by country, Maistry said. Whether it is infrastructure problems or too many children not wearing helmets on motorcycles, the campaign is aimed at helping to increase the safety of children on the roads.

Zenani Mandela died tragically just two days after her 13th birthday. Her mother and grandmother are out to make sure other parents and family members do not have to experience the pain of such a loss.

“Support the Zenani Campaign. Demand protection for children on the roads,” Zindzi Mandela said.

Campaign leaders are asking that supporters wear wristbands to help spread awareness of the campaign. To find out more about how to support the campaign, visit www.makeroadssafe.org/zenani


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