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International World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Accident Victims

Updated on May 4, 2011

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.

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims International Logo
World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims International Logo

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.

The 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:

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.  

Remembrance events

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 victims.

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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    • profile image

      Rebecca Parsey 

      11 years ago

      Can the person who created the road victims rememberance day please contact me. I have launched a campaign in Tasmania Australia. Hoping for some advice and tips and possibly to unite such a day. This is the first time I have heard of it. Hope you don't mind but I borrowed the cover photo of this page to post on my website to show what can be done here. I will only use it for a day or two. email or facebook Rebecca Parsey

    • Laura du Toit profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura du Toit 

      11 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for stopping by Lisa. Sorry to hear about your tragic accident.

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      11 years ago from Massachusetts

      Laura, I came looking for your poem (in the other Hub) and ran into this Hub. Since I was looking for your poem after your comment on my "sad-story" Hub, I kind of hate to further create the impression of being a "sadder case" than I really am by mentioning this; but having lived through an accident that killed my closest friend, I had no idea there was any such day for remembering the victims.

      This is an important message and cause, and it's disgusting that more people don't take careless driving and drunk-driving as seriously as it really is. My accident was ages ago, but it was yet another example of the "brilliance" and "justice" that go on in Massachusetts courts - the young woman who "flew" out of a lounge, drove at 70 mph, and blasted over the top of our car (from what I hear) was fine $20 and lost her license for one, measly, year. (I actually started a blog that isn't really a blog, and is only a message, with the idea of trying to "send the message" about the impact of lunatic drivers.)


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