Three thousand, four hundred people die on the road every day, according to the World Health Organization. This translates to 1.3 million global traffic deaths every year. Tracy Mehan, MA, doctoral student of health behavior and health promotion, joined the United Nations in taking steps to improve this underserved public health problem.
Mehan was a part of a team that presented road safety planning issues at the U.N. General Assembly’s April 12 session. At this session, a resolution was passed to launch the United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund, established to help low- and middle- income countries decrease road traffic injuries.
“It was an awe-inspiring moment to walk into that hall and sit in on a general assembly meeting at the U.N. and see all of the different countries represented. It was pretty cool to watch history happen and see that kind of behind-the-scenes public health work in action,” Mehan said.
As manager of translational research for the Center of Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, part of Mehan’s role is to share research, like youth road traffic injury prevention information, with communities in need.
“I was there with others from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. ... I gave some input on the wording for the sustainable development goals,” Mehan said. “I also gave feedback on deciding the theme for the next Global Road Safety Week.”
In smaller sessions, Mehan learned the extensive process of developing successful resolutions. In meetings to create the Sustainable Development Goals for Road Traffic Safety for 2030, she learned the importance of ensuring measurements and wording in the resolution were written in ways that are uniformly perceivable across different languages.
“The thing that had the most impact on me is being in class and learning about public health and how important evaluation and communication are, then turning it around and seeing it in action at a global level with people from all over the world,” Mehan said. "It was a pretty amazing experience."