FIA President honoured by ITU

FIA President Jean Todt was today presented with the International Telecommunication Union’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Award for 2013 in recognition of his work in promoting road safety through the greater use of information and communication technologies.

The award was presented jointly to President Todt, Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation and Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch GmbH as part of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), which this year took road safety improvement as its theme. This was in line with the ITU’s support of the United Nations’ Decade of Action for Road Safety.

In an opening message at the ceremony, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the Decade of Action for Road Safety initiative “is dedicated to helping to make roads and vehicles safer worldwide. I commend the International Telecommunication Union for its work with industry to develop ICT standards and for collaborating with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to create awareness on road safety.

Accepting the award, President Todt said: “Technology can play an irreplaceable role in road safety. As President of eSafety Aware, an organisation that promotes smart vehicles and new safety technologies, I strongly believe that ICTs can make an incredible difference in road safety.

Over the past 10 to 15 years vehicles safety has already improved greatly, thanks to enhanced crash test standards, crumple zones, air bags and so on,” he added. “Now a new generation of safety system, often based on ICTs, can even prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Intelligent vehicle technologies are making cars safer than ever before.

Applications such as Electronic Stability Control, Warning and Emergency Braking System Lane Support System, Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptative Headlights and of course Speed Alert can help avoid thousands and thousands of accidents, and save thousands and thousands of lives.

Let me give you just one figure: for the European Union alone, it is estimated that if all cars used Electronic Stability Control, at least 4,000 lives a year could be saved and 100,000 injuries avoided. Those 4,000 lives saved represent 10% of the 40,000 deaths on European roads every year.

Commenting on the ITU’s promotion of the use of in-car communications systems in order to create safer traffic systems, and his Bosch’s development of such systems, Mr Denner said: “All over the world – and this includes the emerging markets in particular – our focus is on systems for environmental protection, energy efficiency, and safety. More powerful safety and driver assistance systems, especially “predictive safety systems”, are the next technological steps to further improving road safety.

Presenting the laureates with their awards, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I Touré said that drivers must be aware of the dangers of the inappropriate use of communications technologies while driving.

Don’t be distracted by technology when driving, whether calling from your mobile phone, or setting the navigation system,” he said. “Sending a text message or tweeting while driving is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all cost.

To demonstrate how in-car distractions can adversely affect concentration while at the wheel, Ferrari Formula One Felipe Massa was on hand to show, in a driving simulator, how even an 11-time grand prix winner can be put at risk by texting or speaking on a mobile phone while driving.

In a complimentary message, Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal of Swiss Formula One team Sauber said: “motor sport is like a high-speed laboratory for car manufacturers that allows us to use sophisticated materials, technologies and processes which finally result in components that are lighter, more compact or more efficient. My message on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is drive safely. And please don’t text while driving.

About the International Telecommunication Union: The ITU is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology. The ITU has been leading worldwide efforts in developing state-of-the-art ICT standards for intelligent transport systems (ITS) and driver safety that utilise a combination of computers, communications, positioning and automation technologies, including in-car radars for collision avoidance. ITU has also been developing standards for safe user interfaces and communication systems in vehicles as well as optimizing driving performance by eliminating unsafe technology-related distractions while driving.

About the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety: Officially launched on 11 May 2011, the Decade of Action has the official goal of stabilising and then reducing global road traffic fatalities by