Beirut, November 11, 2013: Under the auspices of the Minister of Telecommunications, Nicolas Sehnaoui, represented by his media consultant, Mr. Talal Assaf, touch, the leading mobile operator managed by Zain, in collaboration with YASA and the Masters in Road Safety Management at Université Saint Joseph (USJ), organized a conference on Monday November 11th to raise awareness about distracted driving in the sports and innovation center.
Officials from the Internal Security Forces (IFS) and from YASA, media representatives along with a number of students attended the event launched in line with the second phase of the “don’t text and drive” outdoor campaign. This initiative of raising awareness about the dangers behind texting while driving has already been recorded on the 2013 Agenda of the Second United Nations Global Road Safety Week.
As part of the opening notes, the Masters of Ceremony, Captain Michel Moutran from the Masters in Road Safety Management at USJ, said, “In 2000, road safety was declared as a human right in New Delhi and was later adopted in Montreal in 2002.” Moutran also highlighted the fact that 20-40% of road accident victims are pedestrians.”
On this occasion, Miss Ghada Barakat, Corporate Communications & Relations Manager at touch shed the light on the importance of spreading awareness about the dangers of texting while driving which in turn plays an essential role in the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). She spoke further about the campaign and stated, “Most awareness campaigns aim to shock their audiences in order to convince them of their message which unfortunately has not led to a concrete reduction in accident rates. As a result, touch and YASA decided to venture in another direction for their “don’t text… whistle and drive campaign” by focusing on the positive outcome behind avoiding distracted driving.
From his side, the founder of YASA, Mr. Ziad Akl explained that the addiction to using mobile phones while driving, particularly among the younger generation, is on the rise. He added, “It constituted one of the chief causes behind road accidents as documented by the World Health Organization given the fact that mobile phone users cannot be tracked. Following the great success of the first phase, the second phase of the campaign will be impactful as well, and we are launching it from the Université Saint Joseph (USJ) campus as a tribute to salute this university’s efforts in launching the first of its kind Master’s program in the region in Road Safety.”
With this regards, Colonel Mohamad Al Ayoubi, representing the Director General of the Internal Security Forces, declared, “We receive daily reports on accidents that result in thousands of injuries on the roads of Lebanon where distracted driving is the most prevalent cause behind these accidents. The new Road Traffic Regulations have been passed into law in 2012 but need further development. We therefore invite the civil society and associations to extend help to the Internal Security Forces by encouraging the implementation of the traffic code and to support the state institutions in their effort to apply the rules in favor of pedestrians’ safety on the roads of Lebanon.”
Dr. Ramzi Salameh, Director of the Masters in Road Safety Management at USJ, explained, “We salute the efforts deployed by YASA and touch, and we congratulate them on their initiative in the field of road safety awareness campaigns which reflects ample evidence that we have an active and dynamic society in Lebanon”. He further insisted on the six pillars of road safety which are: using the seat belt, no driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, seating children in the back seat, wearing helmets, no distractions while driving such as the mobile phones usage and limiting the driving speed.
Touch has been collaborating with YASA since 2006 on several initiatives, especially in the organization of numerous awareness campaigns about road safety in Lebanon.