The Italian Almanac

safe driving

Italian News - September 20

Italy has crowned its first national champion of safe driving as part of ongoing efforts to reduce the death toll on the nation's roads. The winner of the first Safe Driving Championships, a 23-year-old man from the northeastern Veneto region, emerged from about 300,000 young people who took part in regional heats earlier this year. Antonio Zanette beat the other 17 finalists at a race course near Parma on Sunday, after impressing judges with his ability to handle slippery roads, avoid obstacles, control skids and react quickly to surprises.

Finalists went through a range of tests, some on the track and some using computer simulations, which allowed a driver's performance to be compared to the theoretical safe ideal. The Safe Driving Championships, held for the first time this year, were the idea of Andrea Adamich, an ex-Formula 1 driver and head of the International Centre for Safe Driving in Varano de Melegari, Parma.

Sponsored by a string of companies and backed by the transport ministry, the championships are aimed specifically at young people - they are open to Italians aged between 18 and 25. This is because statistically the most accident prone age-group is the 25-29 bracket. De Adamich's idea is that by teaching people to drive safely when they're young, the habits will stay with them.

"It's not just a question of excessive speed but also of the relaxed attitude young people have to cars," he explained. "Young people don't know their own limits or the limits of the vehicles they drive. They tend to go beyond them very easily." "Today's cars are certainly safer then ever before but, paradoxically, all that technology can make you forget that the laws of physics still exist," he added.