Originally published by Transport Policy Matters 

The world today is home to the largest generation of young people in history, 1.8 billion. As we transition to a safe, sustainable transport system, it’s critical to ensure that policymaking is ‘future-proofed’. Youth For Road Safety (YOURS) reports on initiatives to empower young leaders to advocate for solutions to the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29: road crash injuries.

By Leonie Gruber, Sana’ Khasawneh and Julie Smirnova

Youth engagement is an end in itself. It’s also a means to build a better world.  A recent ITF Report, Youth on the Move, emphasises the importance of bringing young voices into the planning and implementation of transport initiatives. Road traffic injuries are the eighth leading cause of death globally, and the leading cause of death for young people aged 15–29. Current trends suggest that by 2030 road traffic deaths will become the fifth leading cause of death unless urgent action is taken. To save lives, it is vital that countries take faster and more concerted action.

Young people are smart and creative. Including our voices not only brings the opportunity for fresh perspectives, but as youth often have a better understanding of the digital landscape, we are able to bring valuable insights into the integration of smart and efficient solutions.

Stop preaching; start reaching

YOURS envisions a world where not a single person dies or gets seriously injured due to a road traffic crash. In direct response to the impassioned appeals of youth delegates at the 2nd World Youth Assembly 2020, YOURS spearheaded the formation of the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety. Today, the Youth Coalition brings together 2 200 members from 126 countries to fight for road safety and sustainable mobility. It offers youth aged 16 to 35 opportunities to learn from each other and lead local action programmes. In 2023, communities claimed their streets through programmes that addressed everything from tactical urbanism and road awareness to infrastructure interventions which resulted in the creation of school signs, enforcement of speed limits, and the maintenance of pedestrian crosswalks in ‘risky locations’.

YOURS also champions the adoption of the Policymakers Toolkit. The Toolkit equips governments to set up mechanisms to meaningfully engage youth in building a transport system that protects the people who use it. Through youth-led research, the Youth Coalition is building an evidence base to highlight that road safety is a cross-cutting issue with other topics such as health, inequality, climate action, sustainable cities and education.

The ITF 2024 Summit on “Greening Transport: Keeping Focus in Times of Crisis” is about moving forward, and that requires us to move in a different way. YOURS will take part in key plenary sessions to continue fostering meaningful youth participation. Besides that, we will showcase tools and artworks that reflect the demands and challenges faced by young people. We’ll show how these challenges can be overcome by including youth voices in policy-making processes. Political leaders must continue to understand youth needs, and youth choices in travel behaviour to plan inclusively.

YOURS warmly welcomes potential partners who share their commitment to amplifying youth voices in the ITF 2024 Summit exhibition space. If you’re passionate about collaborating to showcase the perspectives of young people, we invite you to reach out to YOURS Projects and Partnerships Director Molly Stoneman at molly@youthforroadsafety.org