World champ Schumacher tells drivers to belt up

DUBLIN: Formula One champion Michael Schumacher told drivers to belt up on Tuesday as a charter on European road safety was signed in Dublin, a day before World Health Day turns a spotlight on road accidents.  

“Simply fasten your seat belt, it may save your life,” the race car driver told the press shortly after the signing.  

STRAPPED: German F1 champion Michael Schumacher (left) jokes with Irish Transport Minister Seamus Brennan while testing a seat belt in Dublin on Tuesday. Schumacher was attending the conference “Global crusade to end carnage on roads.” – AFPpic

“I guess if I say that, maybe people will believe it a little more than if anyone else did.”        

On Wednesday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) will, for the first time, dedicate World Health Day to the promotion of road safety. 

Road safety is “a major but neglected public health problem”, says a report, published by WHO and the World Bank for the occasion. 

“Worldwide, the number of people killed in road traffic crashes each year is estimated at almost 1.2 million, while the number injured could be as high as 50 million – the combined population of five of the world's largest cities.” 

Automobile manufacturers, road safety organisations and industry professionals participated in the signing ceremony in the Irish capital, which is part of an effort by the EU since 2001 to slash the annual number of road deaths in half. 

Around 40,000 people die every year in car accidents in the EU, said Loyola de Palacio, the European transportation commissioner.  

But the WHO report showed Western Europe's roads are still among the safest in the world, along with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. – AFP  

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