Speech-by-Michael-Schumacher-–-Make-Roads-Safe-Rally-23-April-2007

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					Speech by Michael Schumacher Make Roads Safe campaign event Berlin 15th May 2007
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Firstly I would like to thank the ADAC for hosting this Make Roads Safe event here in Berlin. As Germany is both President of the European Union and of the G8 this year it is very appropriate that we spend some time together here in the capital to discuss the challenge of global road safety. Today we have already heard that road traffic crashes cost the lives of 3,000 people everyday and the number one killer of 10-25 year olds. Worst affected are vulnerable road users, children, pedestrians, and motorcyclists, mostly coming from developing countries. Yet, we know from the experience of the developed nations that much of this tragic loss of life is preventable. In the industrialised countries, our road casualties have been falling for three decades. We are becoming ever more sophisticated in designing road safety systems. We now expect cars to have achieved five stars in the EuroNCAP crash tests. We expect crumple zones, air bags, and electronic stability control. We expect roads to have five-star safety design, too. And we expect road users to wear seat belts or helmets, to avoid excessive speed and drink driving. Yet, on the streets of South East Asia, South America and Africa, we are facing an avoidable epidemic of death and injury on the road. Today, road crashes kill on the scale of malaria or tuberculosis, yet the international community has not woken up to this horrific waste of life. The cost to developing countries alone is estimated at up to $100bn a year – equivalent to all overseas aid. But road safety is not yet recognised as a development priority. And still missing is the political commitment and resources to give global road safety the attention it clearly deserves. But there are reasons to be optimistic. In the industrialised nations, we have demonstrated over 30 years that we can reduce road deaths, even as traffic levels grow. Will we share this knowledge with countries that are struggling to cope with their road injury problems? Or will we let them repeat the mistakes that we made in the past?

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Sometimes I am asked as a former World Champion racing driver why am I involved in a road safety campaign? Well, in fact, I think the experience of safety in motor sport has some important lessons for all road users. Back in the 1960s when Max Mosley was racing, the sport was extremely dangerous. Drivers back then were told that survival was a matter of luck. If they did not like it they could slow down or stop racing. Then after mainly painful experiences such as the death of Word Champions like Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna, the sport adopted a different approach. The FIA began to adopt a „Vision Zero‟ approach. The way in which race cars were designed, the layout of the race tracks, and the way the sport was managed was organised around the principle that wherever possible the consequences of crashes should not be fatal. This approach has been very successful and fatalities in the sport thankfully much less frequent. Having worked with the FIA in making the sport much safer, I believe that we can also work to make roads much safer. The same principle applies of trying to design our road networks with safety in mind. We know that human error is very often the cause of road crashes but we must try to design and manage our road networks so that such mistakes do not have fatal consequences. That is why l am delighted to serve as a member of Lord Robertson‟s Commission for Global Road Safety and to support the “Make Roads Safe” campaign. We are calling on the United Nations to organise the first ever global ministerial summit on road safety in 2009. The General Assembly of the UN will be debating this issue later this year and I very much hope that Germany and the European Union will support the proposal. A Ministerial summit would give the world a practical opportunity to adopt the measures we know will save lives. Simple things like wearing seat belts, or helmets, avoiding excessive speed and drink driving, and designing not just safer cars, but also safer roads. That is the challenge and the opportunity we offer to the United Nations, a global commitment to make roads safe.

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