Third European Road Safety Campaign ends in Brussels

Published: 16 September 2005 0:00 CET

Claudia Arnold, in Brussels

On 13 September, the four Toyota cars which have criss-crossed the continent over the summer, to promote the 3rd European Road Safety campaign, converged on Brussels to close the 2005 Tour. The cars simultaneously left from Greece, Malta, Poland and Portugal on 14 June 2005 and drove through each one of the member countries of the European Union (EU).

On each stop, the four teams joined with members of Red Cross National Societies to deliver road safety and first aid messages in public places. They also conducted a European-wide road safety survey of children and young people, and those results will be made public later this year.

The drivers (two to each car) also brought back with them thousands and thousands of pledges on road safety, collected along the way. They travelled a total of more than 40,000 kilometres over European roads.

In Brussels, Claire, Cristina, Frank, Henri, John, Mario, Miguel and Pernilla, the eight drivers, were welcomed, among many others, by:

- Mr. Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner in charge of Transport
- Mr. Piet Steel, Vice-President External Affairs, Toyota Motor Europe
- Mr. Pascal Smet, Minister of the government of the Brussels-Capitale Region in charge of Mobility and Civil Engineering
- Sir Nicholas Young, Chief Executive of the British Red Cross
- Mr. Wolfgang Kopetsky, President of the Red Cross/EU Office

The 2005 Tour was co-funded by the European Commission, with sponsorship from Toyota Motor Europe, which provided the four vehicles. European Red Cross Societies decided to implement and participate in the tour, because they recognize that road traffic accidents are a major cause of death and injury. In Europe, some 100 people die in road accidents every day. The issue of road safety has therefore been made a priority, in terms of prevention of death and injury.

The 2005 Road Tour constituted the highlight of the third European Road Safety Campaign, whose theme was “One Life, Keep it”. Its aim was to assist 24 Red Cross National Societies in raising awareness about road safety measures and promoting the learning of first aid skills to the European public, to cut back the number of victims of traffic accidents.

At the Brussels ceremonies, Sir Nicholas Young pointed to the essential nature of learning first aid:

“The tragedy is that the first two or three minutes are absolutely vital. If we can get somebody who knows how to save a life to a road accident quickly enough, we can save at least half of those lives. And don’t forget, the person lying on the road might be YOU. One Life, Keep it.”

Mr. Jacques Barrot noted that, with 44,000 people dying each year in road accidents, the EU is still far from the objective it set itself - reducing by 50% the number of people killed on the roads. From 2000 to 2003, in the European Union’s (EU) 25 countries, the number of people who died in a road accident was only reduced by 13%. Therefore, he said, the
EU member States need to increase their efforts.

Mr. Barrot thanked the Red Cross for setting up the campaign, which was coordinated by the British Red Cross this year, especially because it reached out to children and young drivers, which represent 7% and 21%, respectively, of the total number of persons killed in road accidents.

The European Commission has set out to cut down the number of road victims in three ways, by improving the behaviour of drivers, the quality of vehicles and the quality of road infrastructures. Mr. Barrot concluded by saying that reducing the number of deaths should be a concerted effort – of governments, businesses and the general public. “We can defeat mortality on the roads, it is a question of mobilisation and will,” he concluded.

Piet Steel, explained that, in order to bring down the number of deaths and serious injuries, Toyota was working on both passive safety, which aims at protecting drivers and passengers against injuries and lessening the impact of accidents, as well as on active safety, which helps predict and avoid crashes and promotes overall safer driving.

Toyota also wants to improve road infrastructure and raise safety awareness among road users through the Toyota Fund for Europe, which was established in 2002. One important aspect of the fund is to promote long-term partnerships and teamwork between the general public, the business sector, governments, and NGOs.