The willingness of youth organisations and public authorities to cooperate in order to create a road safety culture among young people in the EU and neighbouring regions was reiterated today at a road safety conference. The conference, which was organised in Lefkosia (Nicosia) by the Cyprus Presidency and the European Commission to commemorate the fourth EU Road Safety Day, was geared at raising awareness among young people. Through the findings of the conference, youth organisations, EU institutions and relevant road safety stakeholders reiterated the importance of creating a road safety culture in order to decrease the number of road deaths and injuries among young people.
The ‘Active Involvement of Youth in Road Safety’ Conference was organised by the Cyprus Presidency to commemorate the fourth EU Road Safety Day and sought to explore ways of incorporating young people in road safety. The need to raise awareness among young people was seen as crucial, as road deaths constitute the biggest reason of young deaths in Europe.
In a recorded message shown at the conference, the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for Transport, Mr Siim Kallas highlighted that road crashes are still the biggest cause of death and permanent disability for young people across the world.
“The ‘big killers’ on our roads have not changed: drink-driving, speeding, running red lights and failing to use seatbelts”, stressed Commissioner Kallas with regard to the main problems of road accidents among young people.
The conference comprised of different workshops geared at raising road safety awareness and creating a road safety culture among young people. Panellists included road safety experts from European institutions and neighbouring countries.
The need for life-long learning through education and training and the significance of establishing mutual respect and cooperation between the police and the young people was emphasised. The conference also addressed risky behaviours such as alcohol, drugs, speeding as well as the vulnerability of road users such as motorcyclists and cyclists.
The findings of the conference from the workshops and discussions were presented in a press conference. Findings include a zero tolerance approach for drink drivers, better targeted information campaigns, a continuous and comprehensive road safety education from a young age and special programmes of re-training of repeated traffic offenders.
In his welcoming note, the Minister of Communications and Works, Mr Efthemios Flourentzou highlighted the importance of the active involvement of youth in road safety. The presence of the Minister of Education and Culture, Mr George Demosthenous and the Minister of Justice and Public Order, Mr Loucas Louca highlighted the link between youth, road safety and the need for creating a road safety culture.
“We vow to do our outmost for the speedy and efficient implementation of the Policy Orientations on Road Safety for 2011-2020,” President Christofias stressed in his keynote address which was delivered by the Undersecretary to the President Mr Titos Christofides.
Policy Orientations on Road Safety for 2011-2020 target a 50% decrease in the number of road deaths and casualties from the EU average of 31,000 road deaths of 2010.
During the conference, findings and recommendations of a study by the University of Cyprus on relevant actions taken in Cyprus were presented.
Representatives from Youth Organizations expressed their willingness to cooperate with the relevant public authorities, in order to improve young peoples’ driving mentality.
The 4th European Road Safety Day provided an invaluable platform to discuss and exchange best practices and most importantly, to raise awareness – of the dangers of irresponsible driving and of the importance of wearing seatbelts.
The conference conclusions and recommendations are expected to provide a useful tool for national governments and the EU for improving youth road safety on a national, regional and European level.