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ITU Award goes to President Ueli Maurer of Switzerland, Volkmar Denner of Bosch and Jean Todt, President of F.I.A.

Felipe Massa, Formula-1 Ferrari driver, simulates road safety

Geneva, 17 May 2013 – The 2013 World Telecommunication and Information Society Award was presented to three eminent personalities: Mr Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation; Mr Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch GmbH; and Mr Jean Todt, President of the International Automobile Federation (FIA). The three laureates were honoured in recognition of their leadership and dedication towards promoting ICTs as a means of improving road safety.

The theme for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2013, “ICTs and Improving Road Safety” is in line with the United Nations “Decade of Action for Road Safety” which dedicates the period 2011-2020 towards improving global road safety.

“The United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety is dedicated to helping to make roads and vehicles safer worldwide,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “I commend the International Telecommunication Union for its work with industry to develop ICT standards and for collaborating with the International Automobile Federation to create awareness on road safety.” Mr Ban noted that Hands-free communications mean fewer accidents, especially among young people who account for more than half of road deaths.

ITU has been leading worldwide efforts in developing state-of-the-art ICT standards for intelligent transport systems (ITS) and driver safety that utilize 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.

“Road traffic safety is a global concern for public health and injury prevention,” ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré said. “Every year, 1.3 million people die in traffic related accidents and another 20-50 million people are injured mainly in developing countries around the world. As a result, Governments and individuals suffer an estimated USD 518 billion in global economic loss.”

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

This message was reiterated emphatically by the three laureates.

Speaking on behalf of President of the Swiss Confederation Ueli Maurer, Ambassador Alexandre Fasel noted that ICTs are bringing about unimaginable innovative solutions, especially for communication between vehicles, between vehicles and infrastructure, as well as so-called "smart" concepts. Yet, the use of ICTs has the risk of diminishing safety on the roads, such as calling on the phone, consulting smart phones and exchanging "SMS".

“The world of the information society facilitates the car industry to make considerable progress in road safety, and in an accelerated manner,” Fasel said. “Regardless of the great breakthrough of ICT in driving assistance, I think nothing can replace the education, training and awareness of drivers – and pedestrians – to behave as responsible citizens on the road.” Accepting the Award, Mr Volkmar Denner of Bosch noted that the worldwide fatality rate is rising year by year and said every life lost is one too many. “All over the world – and this includes the emerging markets in particular – our focus is on systems for environmental protection, energy efficiency, and safety,” said Denner. “More powerful safety and driver assistance systems, especially “predictive safety systems”, are the next technological steps to further improving road safety.”

Mr Denner explained that predictive safety systems rely on high-resolution vehicular radar in order to detect obstacles, pedestrians, and other vehicles. “The allocation of harmonized, globally available frequency ranges for automotive radar applications is essential, Mr Denner said. “This important topic is on the agenda of ITU’s World Radio Conference 2015 and is one of the many areas where Bosch is active as an ITU Sector Member.”

Mr Jean Todt, a former team principal of the Ferrari F-1 team and now President of the FIA, said: “Road safety remains widely seen as a national issue, while instead it has become a genuine global challenge. Road safety must be given the place it deserves on the international agenda: one of major priority.”

Asserting “we need to find additional resources, which could be used as catalytic financing to help poor countries face this challenge,” Todt said, “The international community rightly spends billions of dollars to take up major issues such as the environment, pandemics, food crisis, and so on. But still far too little money is pledged by the international community for this battle – in no way less vital – battle against road accidents. This must change.”

Formula-1 advocates safety: Ferrari’s Felipe Massa revs power for safe driving

Formula-1 champion driver, Felipe Massa, who drove his 125th Grand Prix for Ferrari last weekend in Barcelona for a strong podium finish, put his foot down in a simulator during the ceremony indicating how on board distractions can affect even the most talented professional driver. Off the track, Massa works with Brazilian children focusing their energy towards sports. He is also a strong advocate of FIA’s Action for Road Safety.

Reiterating the tone of all speakers at the ceremony, Monisha Kaltenborn, team principal of the Switzerland-based Sauber F-1 team said in a pre-taped video message: “Safety is paramount for Formula-1. Formula-1 is very safety conscious. It is a trend that has developed over two decades and has led to higher levels of safety even as speeds have increased.” Emphasizing that “motorsports 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”, Ms Kaltenborn said: “My message on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is drive safely. And please don’t text while driving.”

Also present at ITU on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day was Lori Hunt from the Parkview Trauma Centre in Fort Wayne, USA, where she has been a protagonist of the “Don’t Text and Drive” campaign.

For more information, please see www.itu.int/en/wtisd/Pages/default.aspx or contact:

Sanjay Acharya
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information
tel +41 22 730 5046
tel +41 79 249 4861
tel pressinfo@itu.int
Note for media: ITU’s video newsroom provides fast access to broadcast-quality footage and news packages. Register at www.itu.int/en/newsroom/Pages/videos.aspx

 

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