A special press conference was held last January 5, 2011 by the Automobile Association of the Philippines (AAP) at the Dusit Hotel in Makati City in honor of Jean Todt, President of the Federation Automobile de l'Automobile (FIA) who is in Manila for a brief visit. Todt's first time visit to the Philippines is part of his plan to visit the 227 different motoring and sporting clubs from 132 countries on six continents affiliated with the FIA. He aims to assist clubs in developing its membership base, activities and advocacies, particularly road safety.
In a recent report released by the FIA Foundation, 1.3-million people are killed on the world's roads, with the death toll set to rise over the next decade unless action is taken. Developing countries in particular are severely affected, accounting for 90% of global fatalities. This means more people are killed in road crashes than by malaria. In addition to this, more than 50-million are also injured and many disabled as a result of road accidents. This report has prompted the United Nations to proclaim 2011-2020 as a Decade of Action for Road Safety, a landmark victory for the FIA Foundation's Make Roads Safe campaign. The UN event will be launched worldwide in May 2011.
In the Philippines, which has more than 90-million people, about 10,000 people die annually from road crashes. The AAP hopes to bring this number down significantly by the end of the decade with the inputs and support given by Todt. Among the factors, which contribute to road accidents, he pointed out that lack of driver and pedestrian education, lack of respect for traffic laws, poor car maintenance, and poor quality of road infrastructure are some of the major causes of car crashes in the Philippines. Todt was quick to note that road safety is not only about the people who drive, but also about pedestrians, some of whom have limited knowledge about how to properly cross the road.
In his brief visit, Todt also took the opportunity to meet with key government officials who he thinks should also be involved in road safety by improving infrastructure and implementing and enforcing better road laws. He also wanted to remind the public "Driving is a big responsibility for you and for the people around you," said Todt.
Headquartered in Paris, the FIA has been dedicated to representing the rights of motoring organizations and motorcar users throughout the world. On issues such as safety, mobility and tourism, the environment, and consumer law, the FIA actively promotes the interests of motorists in the United Nations, within the European Union and through other international bodies. The organization is also the governing body for motor sport worldwide. Administering the rules and regulations for all international four-wheel motor sport to include the FIA Formula One World Championship, the FIA World Rally Championship, and the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Some five years ago, the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT) was merged into the FIA, AIT activities including tourism-related events like camping and caravanning, have become standard FIA activities which the AAP hopes to promote in the Philippines as well.
Prior to his FIA presidency, Jean Todt was a well-known figure in the motor sport world. His stint as team principal at Peugeot Talbot has brought five World Rally Championships in the 1980's. His following stint at Scudiera Ferrari Formula One has brought five Formula One World Championships with Michael Schumacher.
Despite Jean Todt's short Philippine visit, the AAP hopes to generate more interest in road and motoring safety. "We are very much honored to have FIA President Jean Todt visit the Philippines himself. Mr. Todt's insights and inputs will be most helpful for our ongoing and upcoming campaigns for road safety," said AAP President Gus Lagman.