from the department of communication, harding university

Organization promotes road-safety awareness in Italy
Written by Abby J Kellett   
Sunday, 21 March 2010 23:12

Screeching tires, honking horns, sudden pedestrians in the middle of oncoming traffic.

These elements are all a part of transportation on the roads of Italy. Too often, however, a simple journey of transportation turns deadly.



This was the case for Valentina Borgogni’s brother. Since the devastating day in December 2004 when a drunk driver ran a red light and took her brother’s life, Borgogni has been fighting to bring safety and justice back to the streets of Italy.


As founder and president of the Association of Gabriele Borgogni, she has instituted a non-profit organization that promotes road safety and provides assistance and rehabilitation to young road-accident victims and their families. The organization does this through different channels and on several levels, starting from the early ages of the city’s members.


The AGB arranges meetings at secondary schools in Florence to teach the responsibility of driving, and it also hosts an annual art and poetry contest to promote road safety.


The organization holds meetings in different centers and hospitals as well. Hit-and-run victims tell their stories at these meetings, and the AGB says it hopes it will help prevent further accidents from happening.

Reaching even farther with its compassion, the organization provides psychological help, financial aid and free legal services for families who have lost loved ones.


Reasons legal services are needed stem from all the complications and problems with the Italian justice system. In many cases, only tickets are given to drunk drivers and, Borgogni says, sometimes jail is not used at all.


Not only that, but in Italy if one is in a fatal car accident, the money awarded through life insurance is dependant on the city in which the accident took place. With the help of experienced politicians and lawyers, the AGB is lobbying to push bills to Rome to get new laws passed to bring equality to life insurance in Italy.


Harding University in Florence (HUF) is actively working to support the organization. The university attends both the fundraisers and rallies thrown by AGB and has supported the organization for several years.


“Harding is proud to be a partner with their organization because they’re raising such a growing concern not just for the Italians, but for Americans as well,” HUF assistant director Kyle Thompson said. “Our community involvement and partnership with them is really a positive force here in this society.”


For Borgogni, the ripple effect of the AGB’s presence in society starts personally.


“When I lost my brother, I felt very alone,” Borgogni said. “I knew that there are others in this area that have lost loved ones, so the reward is helping them feel like they are not alone and there is help for them.”


The AGB is already making an impact in Florence, but Borgoni says the challenge comes in knowing that despite their best efforts, drunk drivers still take the lives of people every day. According to an article in the New York Times:


"In the first six months of 2007, almost 15,000 drivers were found to be over the legal sobriety limit, a 38 percent increase over the same period last year. There has also been almost a 20 percent increase in people found to be driving under the influence of drugs in the same period. About 25 percent of all automobile accidents in Italy are alcohol-related."


Borgogni, aware of the statistics, says she hopes to improve them, but is saddened by the numbers of lost lives.


“When this happens, I think of my brother,” Borgogni says. “I would like to see family members not having to feel the death of their children.”


To see more stories written by Abby Kellett, read her blog.

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