The Féderation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) yesterday announced a joint commitment with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in partnership with the Brazilian government and its agencies, to improving road safety in South America and the Caribbean.
FIA President Jean Todt and his delegation travelled to São Paulo to join IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno in participating in the Paving the Way to Road Safety conference, where, alongside São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin, Governor João Raimundo Colombo, Vice Governor of Minas Gerais Alberto Coelho and São Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab, they discussed the challenges facing the concerned organisations in raising the standard of road safety in the region.
Both organisations will work closely with civil society and the Brazilian government to promote a culture of safe driving, compliance with traffic laws, investments in safer transport infrastructure, and improved regulations for motor vehicles.
Outlining the scale of the problem in Brazil alone, President Todt said: “From 1998-2008 the number of cars on the roads here increased by 76%. Unfortunately road traffic fatalities also increased for this period by 19%. This worrying trend is continuing, with 370,000 people injured and 40,000 people losing their lives on Brazilian roads last year alone.”
He continued by saying that 80% of road fatalities in Brazil are accounted for by men aged between 20 and 49 and that in many cases such accidents were related to drink driving, with a 2009 survey of 143 Brazilian cities revealing that 43% of men polled admitted to drink driving.
President Todt added that with Brazil due to host the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 it is now time for the country to “go for gold” on the issue of road safety. He said the key to this is education and pointed to the FIA’s Action for Road Safety Campaign and its 10 Golden Rules for Safer Motoring, a simple safety checklist for road users, as ideal methods of promoting safer driving behaviour.
“Education is the key to improvement and change,” he said. “By informing the Brazilian people of the importance of safer motoring and better driving practice and behaviours I believe that this country could save many lives and prevent many serious injuries.
“Brazil is world-class in many areas. Now is the time for Brazil to go for gold and I think there is no better way to do this then to tell people about the Golden Rules for Safer Motoring. Two of the Golden Rules that are most relevant to Brazil are rules 1 and 5: ‘I Promise to Belt Up – All Passengers are My Responsibility’ and ‘I Promise to Drive Sober – When I am Drunk or on Drugs I am a Danger on the Road’. If we can raise awareness of these two rules we could see a decrease in the numbers of tragic injuries and fatalities on your country’s roads.”
The FIA President also referenced the Federation’s record in improving safety in motorsport as an example of how positive change can come about through education and raising awareness, and to drive home this message he was joined by two legends of Brazilian motorsport, double Formula One world champion Emerson Fittipaldi and current Ferrari F1 driver Felipe Massa. Both men pledged to support the campaign and the 10 Golden Rules for Safer Motoring.
Confirming the IDB’s commitment to tackling the problem, the organisation’s president Luis Alberto Moreno said: “The IDB is ready to support and to fund Brazil’s best proposals for reducing the rate of accidents in the region. I hope that this meeting will enable us to focus on new opportunities for action and collaboration.
“Worldwide, one person dies in a traffic accident every six seconds. In Brazil, the rate of traffic deaths exceeds 20 deaths per 100,000 people per year, well above the average for high-income European countries. “This is not only a Brazilian problem, but one that affects our entire region. We must focus on education, develop awareness of the problem, and work together with different sectors to create a real commitment, a commitment on the part of all. Together we can save lives,” he said.
In a speech to the conference, internationally renowned actress and Global Road Safety Ambassador Michelle Yeoh said: “Brazil has the economic power, the political leadership, and especially the innovative spirit to succeed in improving road safety. And we know that governments with the political will to make road safety a priority will reap the social, health and economic benefits of their investments.”
As a result of the conference the IDB has signed a loan agreement with the southern Brazilian city of Blumenau for a project to improve road infrastructure. The project’s total investment of $118 million will include safety components, including improved traffic lights, special measures for critical areas, better infrastructure for pedestrians, and driver education campaigns. The city of Blumenau will use the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign´s 10 Golden Rules for Safer motoring as a guide to inform motorists about better driving behavior.
The FIA’s mission in Brazil continues this week with President Todt and his delegation scheduled to meet Brazilian President Mrs Dilma Vana Rousseff and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo da Costa Paes.
Action for Road Safety is the FIA’s response and leading contribution to the challenges raised by the United Nations’ Decade of Action for Road Safety, the aim of which is to prevent five million road deaths and countless serious injuries over the next 10 years.