Driving in Italy is a terrifying experience. We've been in white knuckling situations countless times, encountering drivers who disregard everything they learned in driving school: swerving in and out of their lane to get ahead a few meters (what's the point?!), driving after a heavy night of drinking, or running a red light "just because they have fretta."
Before yesterday, if a driver in Italy got behind the wheel under the influence of drugs or alcohol (or simply drove like a lunatic) and seriously hurt or killed someone, basically nothing happened to them under Italian law... At most a little hand slap and a fine. It was a truly absurd notion that a civilized country would treat someone's murder on the same level as stealing someone's wallet. Those days are now gone.
Thanks to an initiative put forth more than four years ago by the Florentine-based Associazione Gabriele Borgogni and the Associazione Lorenzo Guarnieri, the Italian parliament yesterday finally approved a law that makes reckless driving a criminal offense. And with good reason, considering there are more than 5,000 deaths caused by accidents annually in the country (compare that with less than half in the UK, a country with just a few million more inhabitants than Italy).
We hope that Italian drivers start to use their heads a little bit more when getting behind the wheel, and spare us future anxiety ridden drives on the autostrada!
P.S. Check out an earlier story we wrote about Segnali d'Amore, an artistic collaboration to generate awareness of road safety created by the Fondazione Claudio Ciai and the two organizations mentioned above that have made a major impact on Italian society.