FIA Region I media award: The Association of Lithuanian Automobilists reports back on visit to Dublin and AA Ireland
Publication date: 26 October 2012
Report from Egle Kesteniene, Club correspondent of LAS
During the 8th European Club Media Alliance (ECMA) meeting, hosted by TCS and held at Dietikon, near Zurich, the FIA club that provided the most attractive presentation was announced by FIA Region I President Mr.Werner Kraus.
The topic for 2011 was set a year before by ECMA and it was, for sure nothing else, but road safety. For the very simple reason – the Decade of Action for Road Safety began on the 11 of May 2011. The task for the clubs was to provide the story on the launch of the Decade of Action 2011-2020.
The honorable commission found the most attractive presentation was that of LAS - The Association of Lithuanian Automobilists, the club that I have been working as a club correspondent since 2006. The story prepared by me was published in the magazine „Autosportas“ and illustrated with some impressive pictures of the launch event. So I got an opportunity to use the award that was financed by FIA to visit to any European automobile club.
I won‘t say the reason why I decided to go exactly to Ireland and visit the AA. Two similar small countries with a similar number of inhabitants (Lithuania has 3 and Ireland 4.5 millions inhabitants), great improvements in road safety during the past years...a lot of Lithuanians working there...
I found there amazing Dublin, friendly Irish people and very warm hospitality during my visit at AA Ireland. As Mr. Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer affairs said „Unlike a lot of other clubs we do not have an impressive headquarters building. We have a staff of approximately 470 people across our activities. Our offices are actually in three separate buildings in central Dublin and we also have a garage facility and base for our Rescue Patrol Fleet which is located to the west of the city centre“.
I visited two of them: the insurance sales front office that intended for people who still want to meet sellers personally better than buy the insurances on-line. And the office where the roadside assistance call centre is located. I found out some figures about AA Ireland‘s activity in the roadside assistance field, met people who are in charge of providing information on the road condition to the public (AA has a couple of radio studios at the office). And even had an opportunity to become a call-centre coordinator for a while.
But the main and the most important issue that we discussed with Conor Faughnan was road safety. As I am personally in charge of this activity in my club, the information and AA experiences in this field were very beneficial. Despite Lithuania, the same as Ireland, making a huge improvement in reducing the number of fatalities on roads, it seems both countries, and both clubs, of course, still have a lot to do. Lithuania still has 270 deaths/year, Ireland – 187. The reasons are the same: speed, drinking alcohol, not wearing seat belts... as well as the target group – young inexperienced drivers on rural roads with a dangerous driving philosophy which causes road accidents.
The main difference between the clubs activities in road safety is that LAS is doing more direct campaigns for the public, while the AA more works with governmental institutions. If we could join these two efforts in every country we could get a strong measure to use in the battle against roads fatalities.
I very much liked the high driving culture of drivers in Dublin, and was very surprised about pedestrians‘ behaviour who often cross the street during the red lights. I wouldn‘t take that risk in Vilnius.
With best regards to Dublin and AA,