Last week I attended the Guild of Motoring Writers’ Annual Christmas Awards in London – which before you say, is not just an excuse for a bunch of journalists to have an expensive knees up!
The chance to honour the best of motoring journalism (or any journalism) is something to be celebrated. Too often people criticise professional writing, which is usually well researched, hard-hitting, keeps both big business and politicians on their toes, and is of benefit to the consumer at large.
As such IAM RoadSmart is very proud to be a sponsor of the Road Safety Writer of the Year award at the Guild’s annual event.
Myself and Peter Baker, editor-in-chief of Retro Speed, had the unenviable task of reading more than 30 articles submitted by professional journalists to see which would be worthy of the award of Road Safety Writer of the Year.
So what were we looking for? To my mind, I was looking for that article that would grab me by the throat, demand my attention and keep my mind on the subject until the end – and keep me thinking long after I’d read it.
And that article emerged in the shape of Do You Really Want a Safer Car? by Brazilian journalist Gustavo Ruffo. Gustavo, who hails from Sao Paulo, lifted the lid on the world’s car makers and the safety features they include – and leave out depending on where they sell the car. Put bluntly, if you are in the West (or the developed world) expect to get the best of what the industry has to offer.
But if you are in the developing world, don’t expect your car to come equipped with many, if any, of the cutting-edge safety features we take for granted here.
He asks questions which should make uncomfortable reading for many of the world’s carmakers. And ones that I would be fascinated to hear the answers to. Effectively the upshot of this is that the value of a life is different depending on where in the world you are – not a conclusion anyone wants to reach.
Having agreed with Peter that Gustavo’s entry should be the winner, we wondered if he would be able to come to the RAC Club to collect his award from Karen Jones, IAM RoadSmart head of marketing and communications. I needn’t have worried.
Chris Adamson, honorary secretary of the Guild of Motoring Writers said that Gustavo would be delighted to come – even if he had to swim all the way!
Gustavo duly arrived, and the Guild told us he had travelled the furthest than any other attendee to the awards – some 5,800 miles. He even successfully used crowdfunding to raise the money for his airfare. Even though he was not required to give a speech, he gave big thanks on behalf of his nation. Clearly the winning of the award meant a great deal to him.
So do take time out to seek some of the great works of journalism out there, and not just catch a headline on the internet. You might find out something very useful.
By Rodney Kumar, IAM RoadSmart senior communications executive