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Advocate Spotlight

December 22, 2022

Prince Michael International Road Safety Award Honors La Liga Contra La Violencia Vial and La Coalición de Movilidad Segura

For over 30 years the Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards has recognized those who have improved road safety worldwide. Each year the most outstanding examples of international road safety initiatives are given public recognition.

On December 13, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) celebrated with partners La Liga Contra La Violencia Vial and Coalición Movilidad Segura México as they received a Prince Michael award for their outstanding contributions to vehicle and road safety in Colombia and Mexico, respectively. The awards further cement their standing as national and international road/vehicle safety leaders, and GHAI will continue to provide technical support to them in 2023 to pass, implement and enforce policies.

In Colombia, La Liga Contra La Violencia Vial, a non-profit organization focused on road safety, coordinated a mass media campaign from 2021 to 2022 to demand safer cars in the country. The campaign's overall objective was to ​make vehicle safety a right for everyone, and not a luxury for a few.

La Coalición de Movilidad Segura, a Mexican coalition composed of 95 civil society organizations, has worked together since 2014 to promote and pass a national law on mobility, road safety and recognition for the right to mobility.

GHAI interviewed Alejandra Leal, La Coalición and Co-director and Founder of Centrico, Mexico and Mary Bottagisio, Director and Founder, La Liga Contra La Violencia Vía, Colombia to learn more about their work and why passing strong road safety laws is so critical in their respective countries.

*The responses below have been edited for brevity.

What does being an award winner of the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award mean to you?

Alejandra Leal: It’s a global recognition of the collective effort made with support, persistence, and creativity of all 95 organizations. Recognizing the right to mobility means that the government has the obligation to guarantee it, and the citizens can demand it. Thanks to the work by civil societies, this right was unanimously approved by all political forces in Mexico.

A human right recognized in the Constitution, implies that safe mobility is identified as one of the minimum needs of people. In Mexico, the recognition of rights is progressive, there is no turning back, it can only improve. This progress in Mexico is a global example and, furthermore, it is an opportunity to continue working on the issue to now guarantee it. It also symbolizes progress as a region; Latin America needs the right to safe mobility to be recognized.

Mary Bottagisio: The award is an honor for those of us who work in favor of road safety and recognition of the sustained and joint work of various non-governmental organizations. The collaboration to carry out a project of general interest and of the greatest relevance to improve road safety conditions, as was the safer cars mass media campaign. The award constitutes an incentive to continue working in favor of road safety under the safe system approach.

How do you think the work recognized by the Prince Michael Award affect the lives of people in your country?

Alejandra Leal: For years to come, it will help to recognize even more of the work and impact of civil society. To change the conversation on how Mexicans travel, how we exercise our right, and how cities are built and eventually how people participate in legislation and public policy. Working to save lives is a continuous task, which cuts across many sectors. Stop normalizing lives lost in crashes is the first step. It is not normal for all of us to know someone who has died in a crash, especially when there is so much evidence that demonstrates how to avoid it, and so interest from different sectors to work towards that.

Mary Bottagisio: La Liga has for 15 years claimed the right to safe, sustainable and inclusive mobility that adopts the safe system approach in its public policy as an effective means of guaranteeing the life and physical integrity of people. So, this recognition affirms that we are going in the right direction, that this is what should be done and that our demands are legitimate vis-a-vis the world.

What part of the work awarded do you think stands out?

Alejandra Leal: The fact that it’s a bottom-up effort, worked on for years by civil societies. Being able to coordinate efforts of diverse organizations including civil societies to victim’s families, bike activists, public policy makers, mobility, and road safety specialists; gathered through a citizen bill built based on sound evidence and best global practices.

Mary Bottagisio: The prize has been awarded for the work with the mass media campaign, Carros Más Seguros, a campaign that broke paradigms because it stopped seeing the vehicle safety problem as a matter only relevant to those who buy or drive cars, but to transform it into a public interest problem due to the risk that cars create for all. We believe it is remarkable to have broken the paradigm to alert society and mobilize political decision-makers.

How do you plan on continuing to contribute to improving road safety?

Alejandra Leal: Strengthening the collective effort by working to identify a common goal, building consensus among civil societies on priority policies and build momentum to achieve it. We are supporting local organizations by providing technical inputs with an emphasis on risk factors and evidence-based strategies and advising on advocacy strategies to work for State Law’s to comply with the new national law. We elaborated an open code on the mobility and road safety bill to be used by local legislators, authorities and civil societies, in an effort to democratize the legislative processes in all states of Mexico. We work to bring the law from what is written to what we live day by day in our communities, until road safety is a habit.

Mary Bottagisio: The campaign influenced a favorable political and public opinion environment that contributed to strengthening legislation on vehicle safety in the country. Specifically, to adhere to the WP29 global vehicle safety agreements and the approval of the Julián Esteban Law. The subsequent steps are very important, because for now the law is in paper and you have to give it life, you have to put it to work and that requires much effort; regulation is decisive, and then mechanisms to enforce the law must be generated, the road is still long, but there is already a way.

Prince Michael International Road Safety Award winners.