FIA, Motorsports’ Governing Body, Lets Down Safety Standards

July 9, 2017

In Formula 1, by far the world’s most prestigious motorsport, the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix was marred by an overt display of road rage by four-times World Champion Sebastian Vettel who, in front of millions of spectators around the world, deliberately rammed an opponent’s car, wheel-to-wheel while all of the cars were driving slowly in accordance with — ironically — a temporary, safety speed limit.

Photo of the FIA logo

Having untruthfully claimed that three-times World Champion Louis Hamilton had “brake checked” him  and “caused” him to collide with the rear of Hamilton’s car, Vettel moved up alongside Hamilton and flagrantly turned into him so that Vettel’s front right wheel struck Hamilton’s front left wheel.  In reality, engineering  telematics transmitted by all F1 cars showed beyond any argument that Hamilton had neither braked nor even slowed down, so Vettel’s claim was entirely untrue.

Anyone wishing to view the incident on video can do so on YouTube at the following link, but for copyright purposes I am not prepared to post the actual clip here.   https://youtu.be/Cx4AartWhg4

The spanner in these works, however, lies in the fact that the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (i.e. International Automobile Federation, or FIA) is a huge supporter of global road safety and has established the FIA Foundation for this very purpose.

So, around the world, young motor racing fans, including countless children and young teens, saw one of their sporting idols have what can only be described as an infantile fit of road rage and commit a safety travesty by ramming somebody else’s car, yet Vettel got away with just a ten-second pit lane penalty instead of a much more appropriate ban from one or more races.

The thing is that the FIA had the power to override the race stewards’ decision regarding the punishment even after the event, and impose a ban, but undoubtedly politics — a regular anti-Christ in the sadly lethal world of road safety — won the day because the mega-money businessmen behind motor racing didn’t want to ‘spoil’ the season’s championship battle between who else but Vettel and Hamilton.

I hope and suspect that the team at the FIA Foundation were suitably embarrassed by this ludicrous inaction by their parent body in the face of such an outrageously bad example to all young drivers and future drivers around the world….. Sure! Go ahead!  If you don’t like someone else on the road, just ram them!

Hang your heads, FIA; hang your heads.  This wasn’t worthy of you.

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief Instructor — Advanced Drivers of North America

USA Traffic Safety Facts 2015 Data, as published in June 2017

The annual fact sheet from the statistical branch of the U.S. National  Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] contains the following important topics, on a state-by-state basis where relevant, and with national totals shown:

■■ Overview
■■ State Traffic Fatality Tables
• Table 1: Traffic Fatalities and Fatality Rates, by State, 2015
• Table 2: Traffic Fatalities and Percent Change, by State, 1975-2015
• Table 3: Traffic Fatality Rates and Percent Change, by State, 1975-2015
• Table 4: Alcohol Involvement in Fatal Traffic Crashes, by State, 2006 and 2015
• Table 5: Speeding-Related Traffic Fatalities, by Roadway Function Class and State, 2015
• Table 6: Passenger Vehicle Occupant Fatalities, by Restraint Use and State, 2015
• Table 7: Motorcyclist Fatalities, by Helmet Use and State, 2015
• Table 8: Traffic Fatalities and Vehicles Involved in Fatal Crashes, by Person Type and State, 2015
■■ Restraint Use and Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws

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Comments from Eddie Wren:

Latest published fact:  “Since 2014, U.S. traffic deaths have surged 14 percent — the largest increase in more than half a century. Last year, the number of fatalities jumped 6 percent, to 40,200.” The Hill, June 22, 2017.

In general, many of the figures and changes in rates, etc., in this paper might look good but the truth is that when those figures are viewed alongside their equivalents from other developed countries it swiftly becomes clear that America actually performs very badly.  Put simply, if the USA could match the significantly lower rates of road deaths found in the world’s leading road safety nations (currently Norway, Sweden, the UK and Switzerland), over 20,000 American lives would be saved every year and a vastly higher number of injuries would either be prevented or reduced in severity. 

So what are the main things that are holding the USA back in this field?  Sadly, it’s an easy answer:  Politics, and a distressing tendency for nobody in U.S. officialdom to tell the public the truth about the situation.  Indeed, at present virtually everyone who is ‘high up’ in US highway safety seems to be pinning their hopes very prematurely just on the eventual arrival of fully-autonomous (i.e. ‘self-driving’) cars, without any adequately effective attempts to dramatically cut the horrendous death rates in the meanwhile.

Traffic Safety Facts 2015 Data (published by NHTSA in June 2017)

Also see: Ranking Countries for Road Safety – the ‘Per Capita’ Rate, 2015

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Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America