Everybody is a leader

© Richard Ahlstrom

Leadership is needed

Leadership is the ability to influence or inspire people to achieve a certain goal. Stronger leadership for road safety is needed at national and local levels to attain road safety targets. The most effective leaders, who hail from all sectors of society, are those who #SpeakUp for road safety and take action. It’s important to recognize that all of us, as individuals, can be leaders for road safety!

Whether we travel as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or users of private motor vehicles or public transport, as individuals we can #SpeakUp for road safety. We can behave safely on the road, serve as role models for others, especially young people; advocate for better laws and law enforcement and support those who have been affected by road traffic crashes.

To mark the Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week, we can assess our journeys, record our demands, and prompt decision-makers to make a pledge to make our roads safe. 

Scroll down to read more about leadership within:

  • Communities

  • Foundations 

  • National governments

  • Schools

  • Parliaments

  • Police

  • Municipal governments

  • Emergency services

  • International agencies

  • Private companies

  • NGOs 

  • All of us

 

 

Example of leadership 

Special Envoy for Road Safety

© UN

Leaders within communities

Everyone can be a leader for road safety! As parents, teachers, students, employees, volunteers and concerned citizens, we can all play a role in engaging with others in our community to advocate for safe roads.

We can highlight specific risks on the road, bring these to the attention of community leaders, and demand that they take the concrete measures needed to address them. When a community makes the right to a safe journey a priority, everybody wins!

Leaders within national governments

Heads of state and government and officials from Ministries of Transport, Health, Interior and others can be leaders for road safety by ensuring the creation of a national lead agency, developing and funding a national road safety strategy, and monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of specific interventions.

They can also raise awareness and generate support from the public through mass media campaigns. Government officials have a role, too, in ensuring that road traffic data from police, hospitals and other sources exist and are used to provide accurate road traffic fatality estimates and plan interventions.   

 

Leaders within parliaments

With the ambitious SDGs targets, there has never been a stronger mandate for parliamentarians to provide effective leadership in the adoption of road safety policies and laws that respond to the needs of their constituents and lead to reductions in deaths and serious injuries.

Parliamentarians can help to ensure adequate funding for road safety by adopting appropriate budgets and by passing laws that establish road safety funds or that require a portion of taxes go to a road safety fund. In addition, they can advocate for the “safe system approach”, which helps countries and communities to set priorities for road safety. 

Leaders within municipal governments

Road safety is integral to the vision of liveable streets. Mayors and other city administrators can be leaders for road safety by making road safety a priority issue. They can launch mass media campaigns for the public on important risks such as drinking and driving and failing to use seat-belts and child restraints; support their police forces to strictly enforce laws around these and other risks; and, when their mandate permits, reduce speed limits around areas such as schools or residences.

Such road safety efforts complement others which mayors can take to promote affordable, accessible and sustainable transport.  

Leaders within international agencies

Within UN and other international agencies, heads of agency and other senior officials can be leaders for road safety by using the power of their positions to draw attention to the road safety crisis and ensure that relevant programmes, such as those on child and adolescent health or those on sustainable mobility, promote and facilitate concrete road safety actions.

They can also ensure that there is a road safety strategy in place for their own fleets, both to better protect their staff and the people in the communities they serve.  

Leaders within NGOs

Civil society has a significant role to play in road safety. With the passion and conviction, they bring to the cause, they can be leaders for road safety by influencing government policy and practice, promoting the rights of specific groups of road users such as pedestrians or cyclists, and executing their own evidence-based road safety programmes.

Some professional associations can also support efforts to further expand road safety knowledge and research. 

Leaders within foundations

The donor community can be leaders for road safety by adding road safety to the list of critical societal issues that they address through their programmes. Once they do so, others may follow their lead, and invest more in addressing the problem.

While funding is not the only hindrance to making progress on road safety, the resources provided by donors for work at the country and city levels have allowed authorities in these settings to demonstrate what works.  

Leaders within schools 

At the local level, school authorities in all countries can be leaders for road safety. They put in place the protocols and infrastructure needed to create safe zones around their schools and raise awareness among their student body about the importance of safe behaviour on the roads. Through these efforts, and by way of their students, they can bring home the road safety message to parents and other members of the community. 

 

Leaders within the police

The police can play an instrumental role in road safety, not only in their law enforcement capacity, but also in terms of raising awareness towards the public about the risks on the roads and how to counter them. Those who lead local police forces can also contribute by ensuring that the police forces they manage are effective and fair and operate to a high standard of ethics. 

 

Leaders within the emergency services

Given their first-hand experience treating road traffic crash victims, those who provide emergency services – ambulance personnel, firefighters, and other first responders – can be leaders for road safety, when they remind the public about the risks on the roads and importance of following road safety laws.

They are well placed to highlight the needs of road traffic crash victims and advocate for a more effective emergency trauma care system to save lives.   

Leaders within private companies

The chief operating officers and others who lead private companies can be leaders in road safety by ensuring that all their staff, including those who drive as part of their duties, and the fleets they operate understand the importance of road safety and abide by road safety laws. They can also invest financially in road safety efforts in their local communities.

Vehicle manufacturers have a particular role in ensuring that all vehicles meet minimum safety standards, regardless of where the vehicles are made, sold or used. 

Everyone can be a leader

Whether we travel as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists or users of private motor vehicles or public transport, as individuals we can #SpeakUp for road safety.

We can behave safely on the road, serve as role models for others, especially young people; advocate for better laws and law enforcement and support those who have been affected by road traffic crashes.

To mark the Fifth UN Global Road Safety Week, we can assess our journeys, record our demands, and prompt decision-makers to make a pledge to make our roads safe. 

Example of leadership

Zoleka Mandela

© World Health Organization