The Zero Vittime sulla Strada Project (Zero Victims on the Road) was launched in 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, by Jean Claude Pinto, a member of Rotary Club Milano Arco della Pace. He wanted Rotary to be able to ‘do something’ to reduce the heartbreak of the death of more than 3000 people every year (specifically, 3173 in 2019 according to ISTAT statistics), amounting to a social cost of €17 billion due to road accidents.
Jean Claude, a cyclist since adolescence and Vice President of the Fellowship Cycling-to-Serve, garnered immediate support. On December 15rd 2020, during a Zoom meeting with 8 Governors, a few PDGs, Nominated Governors, and more than 100 members from numerous Italian clubs, the project was officially launched with the strategic objective of "doing everything possible as Rotarians to reach, as quickly as possible, the ideal objective of zero victims on the road, that is, improving road safety".
As testified by European statistics, the Nordic countries, Great Britain, and also Spain show death rates per million inhabitants considerably lower than in Italy. In Italy, there are 55 deaths per million inhabitants compared to 28 in Great Britain.
What are the reasons for the current situation in Italy?
The causes are mainly due to:
The loss of a family member has devastating consequences for mental health, as well as heavy economic and legal implications. Not to mention the fact that many victims of road accidents remain amputated or invalid for life (paraplegic or quadriplegic).
What can Rotarians do?
A lot, starting by raising club members’ awareness and making contact and developing collaborations with so-called civil society.
In fact, the issue of road safety, in contrast to femicide or workplace safety, is entirely overlooked and considered a ‘fatality’ or acceptable cost for being able to move with any means available, be they scooters, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, or lorries.
And yet, in contrast to femicide and workplace safety, road safety strongly depends on each one of us, although we have little awareness of it and in most cases the issue only interests us when it affects a family member or close friend.
There have been many opportunities in recent months to discuss this issue at clubs in nearly all Italian districts. Some of these clubs, following the connections made at meetings, decided to initiate specific actions. These include meeting with young people approaching the age of 18 (RC Ischia Isola Verde), creating traffic school parks for children (RCs in Rome, including RC Roma Giulio Cesare), and introducing road signs for cyclists in numerous towns, such as Caltagirone, and Ginosa-Laterza, Ladispoli, Lavagna, showing the pervasiveness of the project throughout the country.
These actions were often carried forward with the collaboration and/or support of local institutions. For example, the local police in Milan were open to assistance by psychologists and Rotarian trainers during meetings with young people, such as youths in Interact Clubs in Lombardy and Tuscany.
Collaboration with other associations should not be overlooked, either.
These include some of the victims’ families, particularly Associazione Gabriele Borgogni, but also associations such as AIMANC – Ass. Italiana Magistrati Avvocati Notai Ciclisti, together with whom a series of conferences was organized with the Bar Association in Milan on 1 July 2022, Florence on 29 September 2022, Cagliari on 15 April 2023, and Verona on 21 April. Others are being planned for the coming months in Genoa and Rieti. All events include a talk on Rotary’s role in and commitment to road safety.
It is precisely the synergy between the various associations that pressures national authorities to focus on road safety and develop concrete actions in the short term. Meetings have been promoted with members of parliament who have signed initiatives to draft laws for the protection of cyclists’ safety.
Lastly, to make the message more pervasive, especially with school-aged children, a range of training/educational content is being introduced on a digital platform that can be used starting in the next academic year by hundreds of schools around the country, and therefore by tens of thousands of young people.
For more information on the various initiatives, visit the "Rotary Zero Vittime sulla Strada" Facebook page.