By Jacob Smith and Robert Colonna.
Jacob Smith is the Regional North Americas Leader of the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety, a driven car crash survivor, speaker, and activist. He has his consultancy in road safety and mobility justice, delivering high-impact community organizing for transforming mobility access in BIPOC communities. Since 2014, he has presented at over 190 conferences and led projects in 10 states, mobilizing youth for safe and sustainable road safety.
Robert Colonna is a Board member of CARSP and the Chair of their Young Professionals’ Committee. He is also a Ph.D. candidate in the i-Mobile Driving Research Lab at Western University. His research focuses on improving public health through road safety interventions, specifically related to youth cannabis use and impaired driving.
It is well known that road traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for youth (aged 15 to 29). Therefore, youth have a right to be informed, involved, and empowered to contribute to preventing road traffic injuries.
In 2020, young leaders established the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety to energize a road safety revolution and save lives on our roads. The Coalition supports the United Nations second Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021-2030), aiming to reduce global road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% by 2030. Currently, the Coalition boasts over 1000 members from over 100 countries. Unfortunately, representation in North America is lacking, especially in Canada, with fewer than ten members.
“As a Global Youth Road Safety Activist and a Regional Leader for the Coalition, I have dedicated my life and career to ensure young people have a meaningful role in these global agendas,” says Jacob Smith, North American Leader of the Coalition. “During my nearly ten years engaging in youth mobilization in road safety, I’ve witnessed North America present several unique challenges. Countless youth-serving organizations will empower young people to be advocates and spokespersons in road safety. However, they neglect the opportunity to see young people as decision-makers, partners, and leaders in social change. This has to end”.
North America presents a vast geographical reach. The potential to end road traffic deaths and injuries by empowering and equipping young people from multiple sectors must include adequate funding, resources, and political spaces to engage in this meaningful work. Fortunately, the Coalition offers resources, skills, partnerships, and opportunities to take youth’s ideas to the next level and maximize impact. For example, the Coalition funds innovative local efforts led by members to improve road safety and sustainable mobility in their respective communities. Additionally, the Coalition has collectively created a talent pool to provide opportunities for members worldwide to exchange ideas and expertise. The talent pool keeps close opportunities related to funding, United Nations event participation, education, and leadership.
Equally, CARSP’s Young Professionals Committee (YPC) is committed to improving road safety and supporting the next generation of road safety professionals. The YPC aims to build capacity for the road safety profession by generating awareness, advocating for evidence-based public policy, and maintaining a national network of young road safety professionals.
“To improve road safety in Canada, it is crucial to have youth representation on the global stage,” says Robert Colonna, Chair of the YPC. “The YPC is a proud member and supporter of the Youth Coalition. Since joining, we have pledged to increase awareness of the 2020 Global Youth Statement for Road Safety and support the Coalition however we can. In addition, the YPC holds youth-led professional development and networking events as part of the CARSP conference each year. I’m excited to announce that we plan on expanding our membership and offering more opportunities throughout the year, including events held in partnership with the Coalition!”
Recently, the Coalition established a North Americas Network. This Network shifts the paradigm of how road safety and similar sectors engage young people in North America. The Coalition believes that young people MUST claim their space on the local, national, and global decision-making table. “We connect road safety with related topics such as health, sustainable cities, climate change, education, poverty and equality,” says Jacob. “Both national and local actions are needed to support change. Young people have an innovative mindset, lived experience, and are the future of today’s decisions affecting our socioeconomic opportunities.”
Here are some upcoming events to keep an eye out for:
- Young Professionals’ (and Young at Heart) Networking Cocktail Hour at CARSP Conference - June 21, 2022
- Achieving Zero Starts with YOUth, Panel Discussion at CARSP Conference - June 21, 2022
- Youth for Road Safety (YOURS) / Global Youth Road Safety Coalition Advocacy Academy Launch - May 2022
- Artistic Campaign at the United Nation’s High-Level Meeting on Global Road Safety - June 30, 2022
To learn more, join, or partner with the Coalition, including the North Americas Network, please visit https://claimingourspace.org or contact Jacob Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more or join CARSP’s YPC, please visit https://www.carsp.ca/carsp-acpser-22/our-association/ypc/ or contact Robert Colonna at email@example.com.
We encourage sharing this call to action among your colleagues and professional networks, especially students, young professionals, and youth!