The 7th edition of the UN Global Road Safety Week is taking place from 15 to 21 May. Each year has a theme and this year's theme of rethinking mobility focuses on sustainable transport. This includes making a shift toward walking, cycling and using public transport. According to the UN, road safety is necessary to initiate the shift and ensure its continuity.

The UN Global Road Safety Week was borne out of the Decade of Action for Road Safety plan. According to the Road Safety Project South Africa (RSP-SA): “A full week each year is dedicated to improving road safety by focusing on various areas that will make this a reality. While the RSP-SA is supporting it again this year, the unique situation in South Africa calls for us to look at it a bit differently.

“An immediate change to walking or cycling or even public transport is not an easy one for this country. Many people commute fair distances to work which makes walking or cycling an unrealistic target. The public transport system is not developed enough in many parts of South Africa.”

Pedestrians consistently have the highest fatalities in South Africa. “Encouraging people to walk or cycle without the proper infrastructure is unwise at best. As for public transport, some areas are well-equipped with the necessary infrastructure and encouraging increased use is possible. Others, however, do not have the necessary development.

“Thus, during the Global Week of Road Safety, we would be better off deciding how to rethink mobility in a way that suits South African road conditions. Our definition of rethinking mobility needs to focus more on making it possible to do this than encouraging drivers to leave their cars at home. The aim of the Global Week of Road Safety is a worthy one, but needs to be approached more progressively in many countries around the world.”

For those that can safely rethink mobility, the RSP-SA encourages this. “Reducing the number of people on the roads, provided there is a safe alternative, can only have a positive impact on road safety,” says the RSP-SA.