On the 24th and 25th of November I was invited to cover and attend the 4th European Youth Forum for Road Safety in Brussels under the auspices of the European Union in the building Charlemagne, Room Jean Durieux. In the center of the discussion were the political guidelines and actions for road safety during the decade 2011 – 2020. The new EU policy orientations on road safety aimed at reducing road deaths on Europe’s roads by 50% by 2020. In 2009 only on European roads, 35.000 people were killed and 1.700.000 was injured. The numbers are shocking. The forum began with the Director of the European Program for the Youth Forum, Mr. Axel Druart (of the Organization Responsible Young Drivers) who outlined the contents of the procedures. The head of the European Commission of Road Safety DG Move, Mrs. Isabelle Kardacz, talked about what happened and what should be adopted for the next decade, referring to the 7 strategic objectives set out by the EU for the Road Safety, which are:
- Improve education and training of road users
- Increase enforcement of road rules
- Safer road infrastructure
- Safer vehicles
- Promote the use of modern technology to increase road safety
- Improve emergency services and post-injuries services
- Protect vulnerable road users
The statistics presented by Mrs. Maria Teresa Sanz Villegas, referred to the large decrease of 40% over the last decade, an impressive reduction of traffic in Latvia and also to the increase in victims who are under 15 years old. Still, Romania and Greece are on first places on the sad statistics with more deaths.
Floor Lieshoot of the organization YOURS, presented the International Youth Declaration for Road Safety, a document signed from all the members of the Forum and also consists a commitment towards the issue of Road Safety.
During the proceedings of the Forum Matyas Masin, a young Czech artist, was awarded for winning the poster competition on road safety (Young Artists for Road Safety).
Afterwards I made a presentation on how to talk to journalists. This is my presentation and the slides.
Dimitris Frosynis, of the Young Safe Drivers, presented the very interesting Application for Smartphones with the name Anti Distracting Driving Software. This application turns off the user’s cell phone when he enters the car and alerts him for any calls he received during his route. The data presented were impressive.
Daniel Vankov, of the organization Open Youth, from Bulgaria presented the Drug Vision Goggles, a patent that simulates the vision that one has when he has consumed drugs.
Michal Kopacki, of the organization KRYZYS, from Poland, also presented an educational tool called Egg Helmet, which shows clearly what happens when one wears or not a helmet when driving a motorcycle.
Jose Fernandez-Garcia of the European Committee introduced the strategies followed by the EU in relation to consuming alcohol, drugs and medicines when driving.
Doctor Horst Schultze, head of the program DRUID, talked about the biggest problem in Europe in relation to the driving behavior which is alcohol consumption.
Hungarian Police Officer Istvan Suba, talked about the communication between the people concerned and the police officers and he reported that in Hungary from 2001 to 2010 there was a decrease of 46% in deaths from driving accidents.
Italian Police Officer Elisabetta Mancini completed the proceedings of the first day of the Forum, speaking for the European Program Icarus and showed some clips from the film Young Europe which tries, through storytelling, to sensitize young people about road safety.
Τhe second day of Forum began with Mrs Cecile Begule who made an introduction for the strategy of EU in the sector of Education, at decade 2011-2020.
Wale Yusuff from the driving school “Drivers Edge” in Great Britain made one of the most dynamic and interesting presentations with regard to the education of young people, from 14 to 21 years. In the questions and comments that followed, the comment of Mr Floor Lieshoot was very interesting. He said that the organizations dealing with road safety have to rival in communication level the cool advertisements of car industry and alcohol industry too. For this reason we should become equally professionals.
Mr Gilles Bergot presented the very crucial European program Ermis, which has the aim to enhance the skills of trainers through coaching.
Henry Arnhold and Enn Poola from the University of Tallinn in Estonia, presented the equally interesting Academic Degree in the Road Safety.
Mrs Audrey Douspis and Mrs Alix Chambris of tire company Michelin spoke for the program Rosype (Road Safety for Young People in Europe) that is addressed to ages from 6 to 25. It is about a simulator car that attempts to show people the consequences of driving behaviors.
Alessandro Scipion of Responsible Young Drivers spoke for a very critical subject that concerns NGOs and organizations, the discovery of sponsoring and collaborators so that to finance actions for road safety.
Mr Walter Nissler spoke for the vulnerable road users and mainly for Motorcyclists, in the same climate was moved also Enn Poola and Floor Lieshoot.
In the laboratory which was attended by all participants, the emphasis was on eco-driving. How we can adopt safer and more ecological behaviors.
Manpreet Darroch of Tune Into Traffic and YOURS, Great Britain, made also one of the most interesting presentations for the role of Social Media in the Road Safety.
Eugenios Petoumenos of Panos Mylwnas Institute, Greece, presented the very successful scouting programm in the issue of road safety.
Stephan Collard of Responsible Young Drivers, Luxembourg, spoke about important and useful tools like the body, personality and mind. These are useful for increase the effectiveness and awareness of road safety.
Mrs Ana Rita Lavado presented the European program HEROES which focuses on health issues related to road safety. In ages 18-24 the road accidents are the first cause of death.
The forum concluded with the assessment of Axel Druart and Mrs Isabelle Kardasz, who ensured the participants that the EU will continue to support the actions of Forum.
At the duration of Forum I made interviews to the majority of the participants and I will soon upload the videos.
My impressions of the forum were very positive. I saw young people really interested in Road Safety and be committed to this important purpose with their body and mind. I saw very serious proposals, actions and great interest from the part of EU. I saw smart ideas and intelligent applications. The 7 pillars for the next decade cover in various ways the subject and remain to see how will those ideaw will be implemented by all. What I want to mark is the power of collaboration, and that the subject of road safety is not national, but international. We should collaborate transnationally to reduce drastically the victims of asphalt. I’m convinced that together we can.
I thank Kyriakos Athanasiou an Chrysa Nikolouli for the translation.