FIA presidential hopeful Jean Todt is underlining his road safety credentials, ahead of the election next month. Todt has a strong motor sports background and is pushing hard on the saving lives aspect of the FIA. His partner, Michelle Yeoh is an FIA ambassador for Make Roads Safe.
Yesterday at Vallelunga, Italy he hosted an event which highlighted technologies from the eSafety campaign of which he is president. He roped in some very big names from the world of F1, including Michael Schumacher, Heikki Kovalainen, Robert Kubica, Timo Glock and Giancarlo Fisichella.
The eSafety Challenge is an event co-funded by the European Commission, the FIA Foundation and eSafetyAware.
The technologies under the spotlight currently are Electronic Stability Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Support Systems,
Speed Alert, Warning and Emergency Braking Systems.
It’s a worthy cause, each of the technologies has the potential to save thousands of lives on the road each year. I was recently at a dinner in the Williams motorhome with a group from Angola, there to celebrate Williams’ new trust in Angola founded through its relationship with Angolan conglomerate Ridge Solutions.
Thousands of people die needlessly on the roads in Angola because they make some money and go out a buy powerful sports cars or 4x4s and crash them. They would like to use their involvement in F1 to help prevent so much tragedy. The teams and drivers know that they an play a role there.
The more you think about it, the more you realise that this is where F1 finds relevance in the modern world, beyond its primary function, as an entertainment.
Making Roads Safe and the introduction of eSafety technologies on cars are going to be a huge focus of the automotive world in the next few years. And it would clearly be at the heart of a Todt presidency, should that come about.
F1 is a fantastic platform for highlighting the story because it is the ultimate expression of the car and – touch wood – of huge levels of built-in safety.
With many sponsors in F1 now looking to link their sponsorship with a Corporate Social Responsibility programme to justify it, a shift is taking place. You can get used to the idea that these kinds of messages will go hand in hard with F1 from now on. It will help the sport to appear relevant when critics and doubters will be looking to make it look like a caveman’s sport, a sport from the dark ages.
“Just as with a seat belt today, one day it will be unthinkable to buy a car without eSafety on board, ” said Todt. “Our goal is to save lives by speeding up the process of getting these systems into the market as soon as possible.”