Mark Webber and Pastor Maldonado took time out of their preparations for the Canadian Grand Prix to warn road users of the perils of drink and drugged driving and to pledge their support for FIA Action for Road Safety’s Golden Rules for Safer Motoring.
Red Bull racing driver Webber, who took his second Monaco Grand Prix win a fortnight ago, and Williams F1 star Maldonado, who scored his maiden grand prix win in at the Spanish Grand Prix last month, were on hand at Parc Jean Drapeau in Montreal to help the Canadian Automobile Association and the FIA push home the message that impaired driving is a growing scourge on the roads of Canada and the wider world.
With research by Transport Canada showing that in 2008 some 39% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents across the country had consumed alcohol, both drivers were keen to take part in a simulation of the effects of alcohol and narcotic-impaired driving. They also participated in a sobriety test conducted by the police in which they learned how driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics seriously impairs decision-making and reactions.
The event highlighted Rule Number 5 on the FIA’s list of Golden Rules for Safer Motoring, a list of ten simple directives by which road users can improve their driving and help save lives. Rule Number 5 states: I promise to Drive Sober – when I am drunk or on drugs, I am a danger on the road.
Later, both Formula One drivers pledged their support to the complete list with Webber pointing to the first rule, advocating the use of seatbelts.
“As racing drivers we push the limit on the track but when it comes to driving on the road we need to understand that it still can be an unsafe environment if you don’t respect it,” he said.
“You need to have your seatbelt on at all times. It doesn’t matter what type of trip you’re making. If you travel without a seatbelt your risk of injury is just much, much higher.
“You need to be very, very careful behind the wheel of a car,” he said. “In terms of the risks I’m exposed to on the race track, when I drive the car I do all the necessary things to make sure that it’s as safe as possible.”
Maldonado, meanwhile, chose to highlight Rules 7 and 10, which ask that drivers pay attention and treat other road user with respect.
“What you have to remember is that you are not only driving by yourself,” he said. “You need to take care of all the people on road as well. It’s a big responsibility. I think the key rule is simply ‘pay attention’. It’s very important, particularly in relation to the signals. After that I think respect is a big thing. You have to respect the other drivers, cyclists, all other road users.”
Action for Road Safety is the FIA's response to the challenge raised by the United Nations' Decade of Action for Road Safety – a campaign intended to prevent five million road deaths and countless injuries by the year 2020. The FIA will task its sporting and mobility members with carrying out ambitious projects to educate, train and raise awareness of road safety issues as part of its commitment to fully support the UN Decade of Action.
The FIA's Golden Rules for safer motoring are a list of ten road safety precautions. While basic, the majority of road accidents are caused by a failure to heed one or more of them.