Child safety NGO ‘transcends borders in Latin America’
Child seat safety training, surveys of school bus transport and support for public authorities in several South American countries have been key activities of the Fundacion Gonzalo Rodriguez over the past year.
The Uruguayan road safety NGO, which receives funding from the FIA Foundation, has published its annual report highlighting a diverse range of road safety activities across the region. Child-focused activities included child restraint (CRS) ‘train the trainers’ sessions for police, medical staff and others in Uruguay who come into contact with parents and weekly advice ‘Check Up Events’ where parents can have their child restraint systems and fittings examined. The Fundacion’s annual ‘Safely Back to School Campaign’ was launched at the British Embassy with a press conference, one element of the NGO’s awareness raising which also included high profile support for the global #SaveKidsLives campaign. During the UN global road safety week, for example, activities focused on child restraint systems, school transportation and children as pedestrians, mobilising 90 volunteers and reaching out to more than 15,000 people.
The Fundacion’s Child Passenger Safety Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (CPSPLAC) carries out training sessions, through technicians certified by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Safe Kids Worldwide. In 2015 the trainings have been attended by 52 participants representing Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport, National road safety agencies, police and civil society members in Chile, Colombia and Argentina. Public authorities in the region have paid tribute to the work of Fundacion Gonzalo Rodriguez. Guillermo Dietrich, Minister of Transport for the autonomous district of Buenos Aries, said: “Thanks to their support we were able to improve our standards and set up more training sessions. Their work, that transcends borders in Latin America, sets an example of how to approach road safety through multi-disciplinary, joint actions”. In Chile, Gabreila Rosende, Executive Secretary of the National Road Safety Commission, said: “The Foundation has managed, as no other organisation in Latin America, to highlight child road safety, implementing plans and programmes to save lives in traffic.”
As well as providing technical advice and awareness raising on CRS fitment, Fundacion Gonzalo Rodriguez plays an important role in independently assessing products and advocating for improved safety standards for CRS and (through its leadership role in Latin NCAP) for vehicles. The NGO has successfully led a campaign to require seat belts in all school buses in Uruguay, and in 2015 the Fundacion undertook a survey of school transport regulations and safety practice in eight South American countries, the results of which will be published in early 2016 and can provide the basis for further advocacy and action by road safety NGOs. These issues will be amongst areas discussed at the 2nd International Child Road Safety Forum, organised by the Fundacion in partnership with the Automobile Club of Chile and CONASET, which will be held in Santiago, Chile, in June 2016.