By Kendall Patterson
Presley Connor, Chester County High School valedictorian of the class of 2019, has her mind set on a safer world with less fatalities from car accidents.
Now a freshman at Freed-Hardeman University, Connor is already leaving her mark on the world. As an active member of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), she was able to become a U.S. delegate overseas and advocate traffic safety at Stockholm, Sweden at the Second World Youth Assembly for Road Safety on Feb. 18.
As a U.S. delegate, Connor said that she focused on “how we can get policy makers to implement laws that reduce distracted, drowsy, drugged, and drunk driving, because these issues still appear to be the most prevalent, and yet also the most overlooked.”
During the WYA for Road Safety, 160+ young leaders from 75 different countries worked together to unite the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provided by the United Nations with their traffic safety programs.
The delegates also worked together in developing the Global Youth Statement “which outlines our concerns, needs and action plans for addressing the international problem of road traffic fatalities and injuries and how youth can be a part of that movement.”
Each delegate had to conduct a youth consultation within their native country, and Connor conducted hers with members of the Student Health Council from Chester County High School. The feedback from the consultations played a vital role in the development of the Global Youth Statement. The statement and other information regarding the assembly can be found at https://www.wyaroadsafety.org/.
Her work as a delegate continued the next couple of days as she gathered with representatives of more than 140 countries and their secretaries/ministers of transport, traffic safety professionals, and even the King of Sweden for the Third Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety.
The conference resulted in the Stockholm Declaration “which links the UN SDGs to road safety through issues such as climate change and gender inequality.”
The main goal of the declaration is to reduce road traffic deaths by at least 50 percent from 2020 to 2030.
This event gave Connor insights on traffic safety from a global perspective.
“Several panel discussions and parallel sessions with these dignitaries allowed me to better understand this topic on an international level. Unfortunately, the United States was the only nation in attendance who did not sign on to this agreement, so we are currently working on next steps to gain support and meet this goal,” she said. More information about the conference and the declaration can be found at https://www.roadsafetysweden.com/
Connor has her heart in being a traffic safety advocate, because, though car accidents can be prevented with awareness, education and no distractions, they result in over a million lives lost a year.
“I am particularly interested in traffic safety because over 1.3 million lives are lost every single year due to roadway accidents. Specifically, this is the number one cause of death among young people ages 5-29,” she said. “All of these deaths are completely preventable if drivers were only educated and aware of their actions on the road. We often look to the youth to be the next generation of doctors, lawyers, and politicians, but how can we do that if we are all dying due to senseless roadway acts?”
She wishes and encourages everyone to do the simple things while driving that, in the end, can save so many lives.
“I encourage readers to be safe on the roads. Simple things such as reducing your speed, buckling your seatbelt, eliminating cell phone use in the car and watching out for pedestrians can be the difference between life or death,” she said. “Together, we can change the world!”