This year has been a momentous period for road safety not just in the Philippines, but also around the world. With the United Nations marking the first Road Safety week this year, and the Vatican releasing its own ten commandments on courtesy for those on the road, awareness about road safety continues to grow and has become part of the trend of issues regarding health and moral conduct. The Philippines is not playing catch up to other countries when it comes to road safety. In the public sector, the Department of Health, through their Road Safety Manager, Dr. Cecile Magturo has been instigating programs to develop awareness for the importance of road safety for regular Juans and Juanitas in the country. In the private sector Ford has led the drive for road safety, especially among the youth with it?s Ford Road Safety Youth Council which is currently on its 3rd year.

The Ford RSYC is composed of youth 15 to 25 years old from different schools like Ateneo, La Salle, UP, E.S.A, Don Bosco, Mandaluyong Science High School, Muntinlupa Science High school, University of Makati and many others with a passion for making our roads safer for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

The Ford RSYC?s job is to help promote road safety through the organizing of R.I.D.E. (Responsibility In Driver Education) seminars in their local schools and communities or through public safety information campaigns and bridging the gap between older and younger drivers on the proper ways to carry themselves on the roads. Being youth themselves, they are more aware of potential obstacles in propagating road safety to their peers than adults. This translates to effective positive peer pressure through awareness and education

The Ford RSYC through the R.I.D.E. program has visited 49 schools and has had more than 7,000 registered attendees since its inception in 2005. It has grown from the original 15 members to more than 700 and continues to grow. Some of the schools that have participated in the R.I.D.E. seminar include Brent International School, La Salle Greenhills, Ateneo de Manila, Assumption San Lorenzo, Poveda Learning Centre, Xavier School, Don Bosco Makati, Don Bosco Mandaluyong, De La Salle Zobel, De La Salle Taft, San Beda Alabang, Mandaluyong Science High School. Communities that have availed of the road safety seminar include many localities in Laguna as well as Dasmarinas Village in Makati.

In 2006 the RSYC kicked off the year with a Road Safety Conference that talked about the important issues on road safety. The conference brought together experts from the University of the Philippines-National Center for Transportation Studies (UP-NCTS), who talked about the condition of road safety in the ASEAN region and the Philippines; the Department of Education, who touched on the role of education in promoting road safety; and Safekids Philippines, who placed special emphasis on the crucial role parents play in advocating road safety.

In the same year, the Ford RSYC, in tandem with the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) with then Chairperson Len Bautista, went around schools and bus terminals to put up awareness materials on road safety tips for drivers, passengers and pedestrians.

In 2007, the Ford Road Safety Youth Council joined the United Nations in celebrating Road Safety Week through the Department of Health?s Road Safety division by supporting the road safety awareness campaign of the DOH that was held along Roxas Blvd. and was capped by the pledge of the youth with other road safety advocates and relevant government agencies to promote safer driving through awareness and education. The Ford RSYC was also privileged to be able to send a member of their group to represent the country at the United Nations Road Safety conference in Geneva. During the summer break, a summer camp for road safety was given to members with an amazing race type theme that had participants doing different activities that promoted and taught the basics of road safety. The camp was held at Mimosa in Clark, Pampanga.

The RSYC in keeping with their mission on promoting road safety has used the tri-media to reach all road users. Appearing on TV shows such as Y-speak, ANC news, Magandang Umaga Bayan and many others as well as appearing in the big 3 daily broadsheets to speak on different issues regarding road safety in the country. To reach out to the racing set, the Ford RSYC during their general assembly promoted responsible driving on the road by giving racers the proper venue to release their need for speed; for all members of the RSYC, a free karting tournament was given at the Manila Speedzone at The Fort where prizes and trophies were awarded.

To become a member one only has to attend a R.I.D.E. seminar and sign up, but to be part of the core council, one has to undergo the Defensive Driving Challenge. This is the hands-on segment of the R.I.D.E. program and puts the student in the driver?s seat (if they have a valid license) to be taught how to properly control a vehicle in emergency situations such as sudden sharp turns and aquaplaning. They are also taught basic car maintenance to prevent mechanical accidents on the road. Road safety being disseminated mainly through information campaigns, the youth are also indoctrinated in public relations workshops which provide the council members additional exercises on effective communication. Capacity building is also given throughout the year as well as road safety seminars to keep the council continuously updated on relevant issues affecting people locally and abroad and how to best approach them with solutions.

This group and all of their activities are for non-profit and their services for road safety are given for free to willing road safety advocates, even if they don?t own a Ford or Mazda vehicle, through Ford Philippines as part of their corporate responsibility program. For every Ford and Mazda vehicle sold in the country, one thousand (1000) pesos is put aside to support the program and the initiatives they bring.

The latest Defensive Driving Challenge was recently concluded for the Ford RSYC, bringing a new batch of Core Council members for 2008. They will be inducted during the next Ford Day in 2008.

With Road safety being a relatively new concept in the life of everyday Filipinos, the Ford Road Safety Youth Council has a gargantuan task ahead of them. As the country grows and the numbers of roads are increased, advocacy groups like the Ford RSYC will continue to be welcome sources for positive change; because in the end, road safety is about saving lives.