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F1 drivers take part in road safety challenge 09 Sep 2009

(L to R) Giancarlo Fisichella, Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher at the 2009 eSafety Challenge, Rome, Italy, September 8, 2009. © eSafetyAware Jean Todt, President of eSafetyAware, at the 2009 eSafety Challenge, Rome, Italy, September 8, 2009. © eSafetyAware Heikki Kovalainen at the 2009 eSafety Challenge, Rome, Italy, September 8, 2009. © eSafetyAware Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2009 eSafety Challenge, Rome, Italy, September 8, 2009. © eSafetyAware

Some of the world’s best drivers gathered in Rome on Tuesday to take part in the eSafety Challenge, an annual event that promotes and highlights the life-saving potential of eSafety technologies - road car safety systems such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

Formula One stars Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren, BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, Toyota’s Timo Glock, and Ferrari’s Giancarlo Fisichella joined forces with eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and Susie Stoddart, from Germany's DTM touring car series, to demonstrate five different eSafety technologies.

“Even as an experienced racing driver, it is easy to make a mistake whilst driving," said Fisichella. "Nothing is more important than my safety and the lives of my family. When I drive a car I want to know that the latest safety features are installed so if I do make a mistake we are protected.”

Each of the drivers took it in turn to demonstrate an eSafety technology, showcasing ESC, which stabilises the car in a skid; lane support systems, which adjusts steering if the car drifts out of its lane; speed alert, which warns the driver if he or she is speeding; blind spot monitoring, which warns the driver if a vehicle is in his blind spot; and finally, warning and emergency braking systems, which act to slow the car automatically in the case of an impending impact.

"I am proud to be associated with this campaign," said Schumacher. "I am convinced that these technologies are critical in our collective bid to improve road safety. We must continue to raise awareness of their benefits in order to achieve our goal of reducing the numbers of people killed on the roads."

The event was opened by a number of distinguished guests, including Jean Todt, President of eSafetyAware, Paul Clark MP, UK Minister for Transport, Michael Schumacher, seven-time Formula One world champion, and Michelle Yeoh Make Roads Safe global ambassador.

“Today’s eSafety Challenge shows that eSafety has the backing of policy makers, major automotive stakeholders, and some of the best drivers in the world,” commented Todt. “Just as with a seat belt today, one day it will be unthinkable to buy a car without eSafety on board. Our goal is to save lives by speeding up the process of getting these systems into the market as soon as possible.”

The demonstrated systems have the potential to save lives by addressing the root cause of some of the most common accidents, and could lead to major reductions in road deaths and casualties. Estimates for ESC alone show that in Europe it could save 4,000 lives and prevent more than 100,000 injuries if fitted to every car.