British model Naomi Campbell garnered support for an international campaign to protect young people on the roads. Picture: Reuters/Paul Hackett

An international campaign by Nelson Mandela’s family for urgent action to protect young people on the roads was launched in New York on Tuesday night.

The Zenani Mandela Campaign had garnered the support of supermodel Naomi Campbell, F1 star Lewis Hamilton and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele also attended the launch.

The campaign is named after Mandela’s great-granddaughter, Zenani, 12, who died in a car crash in June 2010, days before the start of the World Cup.

The campaign is spearheaded by Zenani’s mother, Zoleka, grandmother, Zindzi, the Make Roads Safe campaign and the Road Safety Fund to contribute to the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety.

It is also a “Mandela Day” initiative in honour of the former president’s birthday.

Speaking at the launch, Zindzi said: “I used to think that road casualties were just a tragic fact of life, about which nothing could be done.

“I did not ask how can we prevent this, what action can we take? But so much can be done to save young lives.

“Support the Zenani Campaign. Demand protection for children on the roads. And let us ensure that in future, other families do not have to suffer the pain that my family has suffered.”

Bloomberg described the campaign as a positive step forward in efforts to address road accidents and save more lives.

Ndebele said: “By 2015, road crashes will be the number one killer of children, aged five to 14, in Africa, outstripping malaria and HIV and Aids.”

He said the campaign aimed to protect children on the roads and reduce the number of child road fatalities and injuries.

The campaign calls for a range of measures to protect children, including investment in safe footpaths, cycle-ways and crossings on streets with lower speed limits particularly near schools; proper enforced legislation for child seats and seatbelts around the world; tougher action to prevent drink driving and speeding; and better helmet protection for children in countries where motorcycles are the main mode of transport.