World Day of Remembrance is a global observance dedicated to honoring the memory of millions of road crash victims and emphasizing the critical importance of justice in preventing future tragedies. Each year, the world comes together to reflect on the devastating toll of road crashes, which has claimed over 50 million lives and left hundreds of millions injured in the last 125 years.
The emotional trauma and shattered lives caused by road crashes are immeasurable. World Day of Remembrance is an opportunity to remember those we’ve lost, pay our respects to their memory, and commit ourselves to making our roads safer. On this day, we reflect on the lives lost and pledge to ensure that their stories inspire change.
Here is one story and call to action by the founder of the Nikhil Badlani Foundation and Families for Safe Streets leader Sangeeta Badlani.
My life changed in the blink of an eye on June 11, 2011, when a driver ran through a STOP sign and crashed into our car a mile and a half away from home. My husband and my older son were on their way home after their very first father-son sailing lesson. Who knew that this would be their last as well?
In a tragic three-car collision that involved four people, Nikhil, just 11 years old at the time, suffered the fatal injuries. His aspirations to become a musician, actor, paleontologist, and Eagle Scout were tragically cut short. His dreams were crushed in the preventable crash, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts.
Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare. I live through the pain and guilt of outliving Nikhil every day. I made a promise to him when he lay there on the hospital bed that he would not be another statistic, and his loss would not be in vain.
Soon after, we established the Nikhil Badlani Foundation with the mission to prevent tragedies like ours to help children realize their dreams in music and academics and build a legacy that Nikhil would be proud of.
Each year, we host the STOP For Nikhil 5K Run/3K Walk/5K Bike ride. It unites community members, safety advocates, law enforcement agencies, and families affected by traffic crashes, all with a shared mission of emphasizing the importance of safe driving. This annual event continues to make strides in raising awareness and fostering safer roadways.
At this year’s event, Assemblyman Karabinchak expressed his deep honor and motivation to continue advocating for pedestrian safety: “I was deeply honored to attend the 13th Annual Stop For Nikhil event on Sunday in West Orange, where the unwavering dedication of countless individuals braving the elements to raise awareness for traffic safety left me truly inspired. Thank you to the organizers, students, and advocates behind this remarkable gathering, for not only including me and allowing me to say a few words, but for igniting a fire within me to persist in my fight for pedestrian safety in Trenton. Together, we can make our streets safer for all.”
The Nikhil Badlani Foundation passionately urges legislators to support bill S2885, sponsored by Senator Diegnan, and ensure its passage in the Senate by year-end. The identical bill, introduced by Assemblyman Karabinchak, received unanimous approval in the Assembly in June. This legislation seeks to establish a Commission tasked with developing a comprehensive action plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries on New Jersey roadways, using the safe system approach by 2040. New Jersey will become the third state to take a bold step towards eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries when this bill is passed and enacted into law. While we cannot change the past for families who have tragically lost their loved ones on NJ roadways, with the active implementation of this bill, we can proactively work towards preventing further tragedies.
We hope that you can join us on Sunday, November 19th as we urge the NJ legislators to pass the Senate Bill S2885 so every NJ resident can travel safely each day, without the risk of death or serious injuries on our roadways, no matter how or when they travel.
Your support makes a difference. To learn more about our mission, please visit www.nikhilbadlanifoundation.org. Together, we can realize our vision of safer streets.