We always talk about the values of sport. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), it is about “equity, teamwork, equality, discipline, inclusion, perseverance and respect.” Because, they assert, “sport has the power to provide a universal framework for learning values, thus contributing to the development of soft skills necessary for responsible citizenship.”
And behold, for the sake of that responsible citizenship, a great commitment to road safety through physical exercise. “Although it seems that there is no relationship between road safety and sport, we think there is, and that the values that drive us have a lot in common,” says Jaime Díez Nogueira, corporate marketing manager for Atresmedia TV, referring to the famous Ponle Freno Race, which for 15 years has taken to the streets of various cities in Spain to support the victims of traffic accidents. Yesterday’s race in Madrid brought together 15,000 participants and broke its fundraising record.
“We have always defined the Ponle Freno Race as a social mobilization platform because it sums up its raison d’être very well. It seeks to get people moving to try to achieve a common goal because, as its motto says, “Together we can do it.” And this is one of the great values of sport,” he points out. The proceeds go to projects to raise awareness and prevent road accidents. For example, the proceeds of the Madrid race go to patients at the National Hospital for Paraplegics in Toledo, while in the Santander race they go to the Stop Accidents Association.
“Ponle Freno,” an unparalleled milestone in the world
The Ponle Freno Racing Circuit has no equal in the world. And, after fifteen years of activity since it began in 2008 in Madrid, in 2022 it has continued to break the record for runners at its nine stops: Badalona, Valencia, Zaragoza, Malaga, Pontevedra, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Santander and, in the final stretch of the race, Madrid and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In the capital, as it happens, the event coincided with Sunday November 20, World Day for Victims of Traffic Accidents. “We have run again to save lives. We are the meeting point for all the cities committed to road safety,” emphasizes the corporate marketing manager of Atresmedia TV.
“I believe that in this matter there is no circuit in the world similar to Ponle Freno,” adds Díez Nogueira, evoking the germ of this massive initiative: “Ponle Freno began almost 20 years ago when, back in 2005, we began to carry out awareness campaigns.” A start that later materialized with the creation of the Ponle Freno platform. Sport and values, we said. A work that has a committee of experts to advise on each action, which is headed by Carlos Sainz, two-times world rally and Dakar champion, in addition to working with the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) .
Although the latest data from the Ministry of the Interior in Spain indicate a 20% decrease in deaths in traffic accidents on urban roads (417 people died and 4,142 were seriously injured), awareness work does not stop and should not stop. Everything can help when it is a question of avoiding distractions and dangerous driving practices.
Running to save lives, yes
Stride by stride, the participants in this race are supporting one goal: saving lives on the road.
“Countless communication campaigns are carried out,” they explain at Atresmedia. “To mention a few: the elimination of accident blackspots, the reporting of signals in poor condition, campaigns such as ‘1.5 meters, the minimum distance between a car and a cyclist’ and ‘Road education, education in values’ and ‘Educating today can save lives tomorrow.’ Also those related to distractions or whiplash, those that alert about driving under the influence of medication, those that take place during the holiday periods, the 30 km/h speed limit and vehicle safety.” There are even recommendations using video games to reach the youngest audiences and a podcast presented by the journalist Manu Sánchez entitled Exit Operation.
With some 274,000 runners to date, since the start of the Ponle Freno Circuit across Spain, more than €2.2 million have been raised for road accident victims. Many celebrities have encouraged people to put on their running shoes to have a fun day, yes, but also to make people understand that seatbelts must always be worn and distractions avoided, that we must never drink and drive, and, obviously, that we must not use our cellphone while driving, since it multiplies by four the risk of suffering an accident.
“If our work contributes to avoiding a single victim, it will have been worth it,” says Jaime Díez Nogueira, corporate marketing manager for Atresmedia TV. Undoubtedly, this earnest work must spread —there are similar, smaller, events—and demonstrate that the values of sport can create “responsible citizenship” on the road, as UNESCO points out.
Because more responsibility equals greater road safety.
Write Jorge G. Palomo