Fifty million people are injured on the road every year, and 1.5 million die. Every day, 500 kids are killed, and 20,000 are injured.
These are some of the statistics that representatives from the United Nations and the International Automobile Federation shared with Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican. They came to build support for global road safety initiatives.
The Pope posed with a sign that read #SaveKidsLives and took photos with the group.
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
"Today we met the Pope. The strongest voice in the world for social justice, and against poverty and for dignity and for human life...His Holy Father has a charisma and a dedication and an engagement that is unprecedented by any person, I think, on this planet right now.”
During the meeting, the Pope said a prayer for the German racing driver Michael Schumacher, who is recovering from grave injuries. They also exchanged gifts, and the Pope signed several copies of his new book. One gift in particular stood out.
"The helmet is a symbol of safety for everyone.”
Although he is not a believer himself, the leader of the International Automobile Federation said he understood the unique power of Pope Francis.
United Nations Special Envoy for Road Safety
"Of course, having the support and the endorsement of probably the most iconic person on the planet was very strong. He was very pleased. He was very supportive.”
The officials said that while it was a pleasure to meet with the Pope, their biggest hope is that his support will encourage countries to embrace greater road safety standards.
Interestingly, the group was also joined by Jean Todt's wife, Michelle Yeoh, the "Bond Girl” from Tomorrow Never Dies. She gave the Pope a copy of one of her films, "The Lady.”