International World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Accident Victims
The Tragedy Of Death On Our Roads
Hardly a day goes by that a fatal road accident does not make news
headlines somewhere in the world. Most of the other road accidents,
both fatal and non-fatal are never reported in the media as we have
come to accept them as part of our daily lives. The startling reality
is that every day more than 3400 people die on road accidents and tens
of thousands of peoples lives change as they become disabled for life.
Every year an estimated 1.2million people lose their lives in road
accidents, leaving behind devastated families and communities. There is
no price tag high enough to attach to the emotional and financial
devastation that these accidents wreak on victims, their families,
friends and society.
The majority of people killed on the roads are young people in the prime of their lives. These people's contributions to their families and countries are deeply missed. Besides the psychological and emotional suffering that the families of the victims endure many of these people are subjected to substantial financial strain after losing a family member in a road accident. This is particularly true when the victim is a family breadwinner or when the victim of the accident sustains injuries that cause them to become permanently disabled.
Background to Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims Day
Until a few years ago non-governmental victim organizations were expected to offer the necessary assistance to fellow victims and attempt to change the attitudes of society. It was left up to these organizations to highlight the indifference of society to the extreme human suffering caused by road accidents. To bring the lack of support and the indifference of society to the widest attention the victim organizations from various countries decided to hold a Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims.
The first such day was held in the
United Kingdom in 1993 and all events surrounding the commemoration
were organized by non-government victim organizations. These
commemorative days were also used to offer support to the loved ones of
the victims of road accidents and to give recognition to the victims.
On 26 October 2005, the United Nations adopted a resolution which calls for governments to mark the third Sunday in November each year as World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The reason for choosing the third Sunday in November is because it follows Remembrance Sunday, on which all those who have died in wars and conflicts are remembered in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries.
observance of this day provides the opportunity to draw the publics
attention to the magnitude of the problem, the consequences and the
costs. It is also an ideal opportunity to educate the public on
measures that should be taken to prevent road accidents. This day also
serves as a wake-up call to governments and society to ensure that
their roads are safe.
The Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims is expected to grow in both strength and visibility as more and more countries around the globe get involved in the global road safety movement.
‘Public remembrance is not for the benefit of victims to remember what
happened to them. Victims remember well what happened to them. Public
reflection is the act of recognition. It states to the victims and
their families that their humanity is valued, that their loss is our
loss and that their suffering is shared, if only through recognizing
the tragedy and error of its occurrence.’
(Holocaust Memorial Day Booklet 2007).
- to pay tribute to those killed in road accidents
- to empathize with the suffering of bereaved families
- to acknowledge the work of all those involved in the aftermath of road crashes – firemen, police and ambulance personnel, doctors, nurses, counselors and others who are affected by the disaster caused by road traffic accidents and are exposed to it on a daily basis.
- to draw attention to the epidemic scale of road traffic deaths and injuries
- to the potential risk to all road users
- to raise awareness of the magnitude and impact of road traffic accidents on families and society
- the need for improved post-crash care and support for the bereaved and injured;
- to highlight the potential for preventing road traffi c crashes and
- the importance of a more serious response to law-breaking on the road;
- to offer everyone the opportunity to review their contribution to road traffi c injury prevention.
Ways of Remembering
Religious events to commemorate victims of road traffic accidents usually include some ritual to express compassion for the loved ones left behind and could be in the form of lighting candles or offering acorns or flowers as symbols of hope. At many of these religious gatherings the names of those injures or killed are read followed by a moment of silence.
The purpose of these
religious gatherings is to assist the bereaved and injured in finding
expression for their sorrow and to give them courage for their life
ahead, knowing that they are not suffering alone.
Flower-laying ceremonies are
held around the world on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic
Victims in memory of those that lost their lives. Organizations
supporting families of road victims in conjunction with police
officers, governments and communities promote this day through various
activities in order to unite the family and friends of the road
Events to Spread Awareness
Information distribution through media campaigns, the internet,
posters and leaflets, websites dedicated to the day, seminars and
workshops are all held in an attempt to make people aware of the
tragedy of road accidents and means to curb the deaths on the roads.
Marches and processions have taken place on this special day all around
the world in recent years.
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