"Our daughter, Kanhara, was run down by a lorry when she was just three years old. It happened so quickly. She lost an arm and her right leg. She didn't receive any specialised healthcare for five years, until we met with Handicap International's teams.” (Cambodia)
Kanhara is not alone: every day, more than 500 children lose their lives in road traffic accidents. Every year, road traffic accidents kill almost 1.3 million people and leave more than 20 million injured. They are the first leading cause of death amongst the 15 - 25 years old and 90% of these accidents occur in low and middle-income countries. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are the worst affected.
"These accidents not only leave the victims with physical disabilities but also cause psychological harm and have a significant economic impact representing an annual loss of over 500 billion dollars," explains Eric Remacle, Handicap International Road Safety Technical Advisor.
On 7 and 8 May, Handicap International will take part at the Child Road Safety Americas Congress, held as part of the third United Nations Global Road Safety Week. The agenda will tackle the critical situation regarding children on the roads, ways of improving child road safety, and how to ensure the campaign for improved road safety features in the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals.
Since 2000, Handicap International has been actively campaigning for improved road safety. The organisation is currently running projects in Benin, DRC, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Tajikistan and Haiti in order to raise communities' awareness of the risks relating to road safety, to improve infrastructure, and to support victims of road traffic accidents.
"It is vital that people are made aware of the risks and know how to protect themselves, by wearing a motorcycle helmet, wearing a seatbelt, not drinking and driving, and keeping to the speed limit. We also work in schools, to ensure children are informed from a very early age and learn the right behaviours. This is absolutely essential," explains Eric Remacle.
He goes on to conclude, "If effective steps are not taken immediately, by 2040, road traffic accidents will cause 2.4 million deaths a year. Improving road safety is therefore a priority for Handicap International."