FIA plea for road safety ambassadors
Jean Todt, President of the FIA motor racing governing body, took advantage of the gathering of sporting stars in Doha to make a case for their involvement in the UN’s Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020) to build awareness of the campaign.
He said more than 1.3 million people were killed on the roads every year with another 50 million injured – and that if this trend continued, figures could rise to two million dead and 80 million maimed annually: “This is among the worst scourges of our society, and up to 90 per cent of the accidents are in developing countries.
“Even in Qatar, with a population of just 1.7 million, 300 die annually and thousands are injured,” he added. “Overall cost to society is around US$500million a year, and unless we address the issue, road deaths will be among the top three killers worldwide.”
Todt said the issue should be a priority for governments, pointing to success in France where a campaign involving communications, legislation and improved road infrastructure cut deaths from 20,000 a year to 4,000.
“Motor racing is popular here in the region with a lot of developments and ambitions for the future,” he said. “We hope for a commitment to address road safety as a priority – and we want sporting celebrities to get on board as role models and ambassadors to advance our programme.”
FIA Global Road Safety Ambassador, Michelle Yeoh, stressed the scale of the problem, saying a child was hurt on roads worldwide every 30 seconds and that this statistic would get progressively worse.
“It is a disease, but we do have vaccines – our golden rules on seat belts, safety helmets, obeying speed limits and only driving when sober,” she said – a message that echoed with many of the students listening in the audience.