AUTO - Walking tall | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

AUTO - Walking tall

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One of the hottest properties in Formula One, Charles Leclerc has lit up the world championship in his first season with Ferrari. Now the 21-year-old racer from Monaco is putting his talents to use in the fight for road safety, joining HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco as an ambassador for the FIA’s #3500LIVES campaign. Here, he talks about delivering the message of  keeping pedestrians safe on the world’s roads

You have joined the #3500LIVES campaign in tandem with a member of the royal family of your home state of Monaco, Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene. What prompted you to support the campaign?

I think it’s important for all of us to support causes that can improve or even save lives.  This applies especially to anyone who is fortunate enough to have a voice in the  media and is able to spread important messages on a global scale. Road safety is  a serious issue that unfortunately causes a lot of despair in the world. The #3500LIVES campaign can make a great impact at an international level and works towards saving  the lives of innocent people. It is a cause that I am very happy and proud to have the opportunity to support.

Why do you believe a campaign such as this, which seeks to bring simple road safety messages to a global audience via available advertising space, is important?

Creating awareness is always the first step to start making a change. The use of billboard space is a great way to communicate important messages because such a broad audience can be reached. I also think that it is great to see  so many people come together and become ambassadors for this campaign, as several people involved in Formula One and motor sport in general have already done. This is a first step on a long and important journey towards providing a safer environment on  our roads across the globe.

The message you promote is ‘Watch out for pedestrians’. Why do you feel it’s important  to slow down in urban areas?

It is important to respect the regulations designed to ensure road safety in urban areas. Unfortunately, innocent bystanders can sometimes become involved in accidents that can change or even take their lives. It is important to be responsible behind the wheel and one of the campaign’s key messages is  to ‘Watch out for pedestrians’. It is a way in which each of us can make a positive impact on road safety.

How much do you think the involvement of celebrities as role models can help spread the message of road safety, especially one that is global in nature? Do you believe in the power of role models?

Participating in public events and having frequent contact with the media is not just part of our jobs. It also gives us the opportunity to discuss important topics with opinion leaders, journalists and fans. It is a way in which we can use our platforms to make changes and I think that it is important to seize each opportunity we have to leave  a positive impact on our society.

Have you had personal experience of the other safety issues outlined by the campaign?

Fortunately, I haven’t had any personal experiences with road safety. Nevertheless, all of the safety issues that the #3500LIVES campaign focuses on are important ones  and should be regarded as such.

What do you hope the campaign can achieve  in the coming years in terms of altering the behaviour of this generation of drivers and,  more importantly, the next?

By making sure that children grow up with a good understanding of responsible behaviour on our roads – whether it is behind the wheel,  as passengers, or as pedestrians – we can ensure that they have a safer environment to live in. Passing on important values to the next generation is very important, which naturally also applies to road safety.

You are the youngest ambassador for this campaign, so what advice would you give to young drivers who have just obtained their  road licence?

An important thing to remember is that you have to be responsible not only towards yourself, but also towards the people around you. Being safe on the road is an essential  part of how we interact with our surroundings and respecting the safety of others is a key element of that.

Do you think junior motor sport in disciplines such as karting can have a positive effect on  the driving habits of people as they transition  to road cars in their later teens?

There are certainly things that children can  learn from karting, such as respecting rules  which are designed to ensure that driving is  safe for all participants. It is a good way for them to learn how to drive responsibly on the road too and teaches them that they must respect those around them, whether they are fellow drivers or pedestrians.