Transportation and urban planning policies and choices have a huge impact on the health and basic rights of children.

Rights of the child?

  • Road traffic injury is a leading cause of death for young people. 500 children die every day, thousands more are seriously hurt;
  • Air pollution is a toxic, carcinogenic and invisible killer, seriously affecting the development of children’s lung function and responsible for a huge burden of health;
  • Unsafe and unhealthy urban space deters people from walking, cycling and exercise. Children learn and form habits early which last a lifetime;
  • Non communicable diseases and obesity, to which both air pollution and lack of exercise are contributors, are becoming a significant health issue for young people across the world;
  • An estimated 1 million+ children each year miss out on education through death or injury in road traffic crashes. Many more have their life-chances affected by injuries to parents and breadwinners;
  • There are serious issues of inequity in transport provision: everywhere in the world it is the poorest children who live alongside the most dangerous roads; breathe the dirtiest air; and have the biggest barriers to access to education and, eventually, employment because of where they live.

'I fully support this new initiative which brings together key mobility stakeholders from different sectors, united in the goal to promote the undisputable right of every child to a safe, clean and above all healthy journey, no matter where in the world.'
Jean Todt, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety

Thousands of children experience road traffic injury or road danger every day, many while travelling to or from school, others while playing with friends or fetching water or food for the family meal. In this film for the Save Kids Lives campaign Luc Besson, the award-winning movie director, brings us a visceral view of two contrasting journeys.

The Global Health Burden on Children

Analysis by the Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation shows the major health impact of road traffic injuries on children. Respiratory conditions caused by outdoor air pollution also exact a heavy lifetime toll of ill-health, beginning in childhood. Use the IHME Global Burden of Disease interactive tool to see how your country performs.