November 21, 2021 is World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims

by Leah Shahum | November 4, 2021 | in Families for Safe Streets, News, Zero Traffic Deaths

Actions Planned Across U.S. as Traffic Deaths Increase Record Levels

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World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims – Sunday, November 21, 2021 – is taking on extra urgency as the number of people dying and severely injured in preventable traffic crashes in the U.S.  is rising at an alarming rate. 

We invite everyone who supports the goal of Vision Zero — safe mobility for all people — to participate this year. Contact us to learn more, share your ideas, and access our robust World Day of Remembrance Organizing toolkit.

In the first half of 2021, 18.4% more people died in road traffic crashes compared to 2020, according to the recent U.S. Dept. of Transportation estimation. Last year, overall, 42,060 people died on the U.S. roads, a 24% spike over the prior year in the rate of traffic deaths – highest in 96 years – according to National Safety Council (NSC) estimates. 

“This is a health and safety crisis of an astronomical scale,” said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of Vision Zero Network, a nonprofit supporting the goal of zero traffic deaths or severe injuries among all road users. “For too long, we’ve accepted this tragic loss of life and suffering as part of our everyday transportation system, but it doesn’t have to be this way. This year, on World Day of Remembrance, we stand together to say ‘Enough is Enough’ and we demand change.”

The World Day of Remembrance is an international event, started in 2005, honoring the 1.35 million people killed and millions more injured on the world’s roads each year and organizing for change to prevent such tragedies (learn how to reach Vision Zero – zero traffic deaths or severe injuries – in the U.S.).

Communities across the U.S. are organizing events to urge change at the local and state levels – including lowering speed limits and re-designing roads to safely welcome people walking and bicycling — as well as a major new national-level campaign. This year’s events call on President Biden and the U.S. Congress to make a national commitment to Zero Traffic Deaths.  A bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Resolution (S. Res. 321, H. Res. 565) calling for a national Vision Zero goal and plan is gaining traction. We ask you to act now to support this call for a paradigm shift in prioritizing safety over speed. Find out how you can help the nation refocus on safety now.

World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims in San Francisco in 2016. Jenny Yu fighting back tears as she describes the life-long impact to her mom Judy, after her crash. Photo by Adrienne L. Johnson.

“We need more voices to reach our elected officials, who have the power to change the system,” said Amy Cohen, of Families for Safe Streets. “We have the tools and know-how to make safety the priority in how we design our streets and set policies and manage speeds, but we need to demand political will.”

Local World Day of Remembrance events will include candlelight vigils, rallies, bike rides, Sermons for Safe Streets, and visual memorials to those lost, as well as a range of online events, including a national candle lighting ceremony for those who have lost a loved one in a traffic crash or suffered a serious injury.

See a summary of 2020 World Day of Remembrance events here.

Events will occur at various times on Sunday, November 21, 2021 (see list below). Additional activities include:

  • November 15th: Twitter Town Hall focused on #WDoR2021 #ZeroTrafficDeaths, 10 am PT / 1 pm ET.
  • November 15-21st: Advocacy Call-in Week for Congressional #ZeroTrafficDeaths Resolution. Sign up here for info. Help enlist more support!
  • November 16th: Faith Leader Forum (more here).
  • November 21st: World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Events nationwide, including Virtual Candle Lighting 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET.

World Day of Remembrance in the U.S. is led by members of Families for Safe Streets (FSS) –  individuals who have been injured or lost loved ones in traffic crashes, working to confront traffic violence in communities in the U.S. – and the Vision Zero Network – a national advocacy group working for safe mobility for all – partnering with local- and state-level street safety advocates, faith leaders, community members, elected officials and dignitaries from across the nation. Local advocacy groups and government agencies are also actively involved in organizing events around the country.

World Day of Remembrance in New York City in 2020. Photo credit: Families for Safe Streets.

In 2020, events were organized in the following places (and more) across the U.S.: Atlanta, Austin/Central Texas, Boise, Boston, Champaign-Urbana, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles/Southern California, Nashville, New Haven, New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Jose, St. Paul, Tampa, Tempe, Toronto, Virginia (Richmond, Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax), Washington DC, and more. 

Learn about World Day of Remembrance of other past years: 2020, 2019, 2018.

World Day of Remembrance in Portland in 2020. Michelle DuBarry and her children at a Gresham intersection. They held a photo of Seamus, their 22-month old son and brother who was killed while walking in a north Portland crosswalk in 2010. Photo: Oregon Walks.

To participate in World Day of Remembrance and collaborate with others, please sign up here.


For media inquiries, contact: 

Leah Shahum, Vision Zero Network, leah@visionzeronetwork.org
Amy Cohen, Families for Safe Streets, amy@familiesforsafestreets.org

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