On Sunday, November 17, 2019, people impacted by traffic violence and street safety advocates gathered in Washington, DC for the World Day of Remembrance.
World Day of Remembrance, which occurs on the third Sunday of November each year, is the international day when we remember and honor the millions of victims of traffic crashes around the world.
Family members, survivors, and street safety advocates gathered at Chinatown Park and walked together in solidarity to Freedom Plaza in Downtown DC to share our stories and to remember our loved ones. We also acknowledged that we are unfortunately not alone with our experiences of traffic violence. In the United States, traffic violence is a national epidemic that kills 40,000 people and injures 3 million a year. And in DC, 23 people have been killed and over 21,000 people have been injured on DC streets to date this year.
We are not alone
As the ceremony began with a reading of “The Leaf And The Cloud” by Mary Oliver, a murmuration of starlings flew above. Alicia Lewis and Meredith Tomason both spoke about their experiences of losing their mothers to traffic violence in DC. Alicia’s mother, Jewel, was well known in her neighborhood for her vibrant personality and generosity. Meredith reflected on the sudden loss of her mother, Carol, and read a personal letter she wrote to her mother last New Year’s Eve, a few months after her mother’s death.
In addition, Aysha Ghadiali spoke about her experience surviving her crash at 14th and Riggs Street NW last December, and in particular, expressed gratitude for the people and first responders who made sure she was safe and taken care of. Reverend Armon Nelson closed the remarks and asked us to lock arms and to reflect on the stories we heard and the lives that we have lost to traffic violence.
Ways we can end traffic violence together
As we continue to reflect on the emotional, spiritual, and physical impact of traffic violence on our lives, there are ways that we can demand life saving changes so that no other families suffer the loss or life altering injuries that have impacted our families. Here are three things you can do right now:
First: If you live in DC, please contact your Councilmember and ask them to pass the seven traffic safety bills that were considered by the Committee on Transportation and the Environment in October. Please say thank you to the Councilmembers who are pushing the bills forward. More information on the bills are available here or feel free to contact us for guidance.
Second: This year we are also demanding that our national leaders treat traffic violence like the public health epidemic it is—nearly 40,000 people are killed on our streets and roads every year in the United States. In this presidential election season, we want to hear all the candidates speak out on this issue—we demand a plan. Visit EndTrafficViolence.org to add your name to demand that all presidential candidates—Democratic, Republican, and Independent—address the public health epidemic of traffic violence.
Lastly: If you have been affected by traffic violence, please consider sharing your story on social media using the hashtag #EndTrafficViolence. There are millions of victims and survivors; we are not alone.
We thank everyone who courageously spoke or attended World Day of Remembrance in DC. We are also thankful for everyone who helped organize this event; Travis Hall for delivering the Mary Oliver reading; Issac Wohl for his beautiful guitar rendition of “Blackbird” by the Beatles; and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association for walking with us in solidarity and for providing the blinky lights and sound system. Top image by Greg Billing.