Press Release

United Nations launches Global Road Safety Campaign to create streets that embody life in South Africa

16 May 2024

We are taking another critical step towards reshaping road safety throughout the continent, because Road Safety is a shared responsibility.

Caption: UN Special Envoy for Road Safety Jean Todt at the Bosman Taxi Rank in Pretoria, South Africa
Photo: © UN South Africa

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, launched the UN Global Campaign for Road Safety under the hashtag #MakeASafetyStatement in South Africa at a function held in Johannesburg on Monday, 13 May 2024. The campaign, launched in collaboration with JC Decaux – a global advertising company, the Government of South Africa, Discovery, and several other partners and influencers, aims at raising awareness among individuals, communities, municipalities, and governments in a collective effort to create a safer and more inclusive future on roads, particularly among youth, who are disproportionately affected by road crashes globally. 

“By launching the campaign in South Africa, we are taking another critical step towards reshaping road safety throughout the continent,” said Mr. Todt. “We are all road users – pedestrians, cyclists, drivers. So, we must all take responsibility.”

Facilitated by the UN in South Africa and the Department of Transport along with affiliated road management and safety entities, the timely visit of the United Nations Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt to South Africa was to support the road safety and sustainable public transport efforts of national and local authorities.

Prior to the launch, Mr. Todt and the UN Resident Coordinator, Nelson Muffuh, met with South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, to discuss strategies for improving road safety. Their dialogue, including the leaders of all road entities affiliated to the Department, focused on key areas such as infrastructure development, education of students and public awareness campaigns, vehicle safety, behavior of road users, and law enforcement measures. The minister expressed gratitude for the UN’s commitment to supporting South Africa’s efforts in reducing road fatalities and injuries in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

In addition to the official meetings, Mr. Todt actively participated a road safety awareness event organized by the South African National Taxi Association Council (SANTACO) held at the Bosman Taxi Rank in the capital Pretoria. The event was a collaborative effort involving the UN in South Africa, all entities of the Department of Transport, and Jonsson Workwear, a company that produces Vizi belts. Thousands of the Vizi belts, which keep the wearer visible during the day and night, were handed out to taxi drivers and the public at the taxi rank to emphasize the importance of visibility and safety on the roads.

Speaking at the Bosman event, Mr. Todt said, “Road safety is a shared responsibility. By understanding the dangers, demanding action, and making a safety statement – on buckling up, obeying speed limits, driving sober, and not using a telephone – we can improve our own safety and the safety of those around us. Above all, please remember that road crashes are not inevitable. They are predictable; and we have the prescription to stop the carnage.”

At the official launch event hosted by Discovery Insure, a South African insurance company, in Sandton, the Special Envoy highlighted the urgent needs for road safety in South Africa, including legislation on urban speed limits for passenger cars and motorcycles, as well as legislation on child restraint systems. He said legislation can lead to a 60% reduction in fatalities, while the proper use of homologated helmets can reduce the risk of death by more than 40% and injury by almost 70%. Through the United Nations Road Safety Fund, the UN is also tackling the road safety crisis through concrete capacity-building support to governments in these areas.

Nelson Muffuh, the UN Resident Coordinator in South Africa, emphasized the need for a change in basic assumptions, calling for innovations from the public and the private sectors in tackling road accidents and a commitment to collaborate across communities, various sectors and government agencies. 

“Road accidents are a pressing issue that demands our attention. As influencers, we inspire and catalyze positive action, especially among young people. The importance of partnership and collaboration cannot be overstated – it is essential for scaling up awareness and working together effectively. Let us persistently champion and promote road safety,” said Mr. Muffuh.

The launch was attended by South African celebrities who committed themselves to the campaign to create streets that embody life. The Road Safety champions for the campaign include Sello Maake, Gaisang Noge, Leanne Manas, Maduvha Madima, Bryoni Govendor, Thokozani Ndaba, Dr. Moratwe Masima, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Doctor Khumalo.

In a significant move towards road safety, TotalEnergies partnered with global leaders in Johannesburg on 14 May to distribute helmets to one hundred drivers. Led by Mariam Kane-Garcia and Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier of TotalEnergies, the event featured insights from road safety expert Mr. Jean Todt, emphasizing the importance of safer driving practices. Mr. Todt, the initiator of the “Global Safe and Affordable Helmet Campaign,” highlighted Johannesburg as a pivotal location for the campaign's progress. The distribution of helmets symbolizes a tangible step towards reducing road accidents and protecting vulnerable road users.

The event facilitated crucial discussions on road safety strategies, underscoring the significance of collective action in addressing road safety challenges. TotalEnergies' collaboration with global leaders reaffirms its commitment to promoting road safety and fostering sustainable development.

The Special Envoy also had an opportunity to meet the Tshwane Executive Mayor, Mr. Cilliers Brink, for a discussion on reviewing ways to promote safe streets in the capital. 

At the invitation of the Minister of Transport, Mr. Todt had the privilege to witness the pass out parade ceremony for 409 traffic officers who graduated at the esteemed Road Traffic Academy in Pretoria. The graduates are part of government implementation to reinforce traffic rule and tackle lawlessness in South Africa.

To wrap up his visit, Mr. Todt visited the Dr. Mathole Motshekga Primary School in Midrand, Johannesburg, where he was welcomed with a scholar patrol demonstration and addressed learners with tips on road safety. Together with the Minister Chikunga, the Special Envoy also attended a Media Breakfast and Roundtable discussion with the chief executive officers of the Department of Transport and roads entities within the Department of Transport of South Africa. Minister Chikunga emphasized the need to have smart roads and utilize technology to keep roads safe.

During his visit to South Africa, the Special Envoy for Road Safety also attended several other public awareness events and meet with officials from both the government and private sector to emphasize the importance of the road safety campaign. 

See Photos: HERE UN Special Envoy for Road Safety | Flickr


Eunice Namugwe


UN entities involved in this initiative

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
United Nations Information Centre
United Nations Children’s Fund
World Health Organization

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