The FIA have published its set of Rally Safety Guidelines to stop fans who disobey the rules on rallying events from ruining the long-term future of the sport.
Created after two years’ worth of research by the FIA Head of Circuit and Rally Safety Stuart Robertson, the new rules are planned to be followed eventually by regional and national rallying championships also, with the main aim to continue to make the sport as safe as possible.
The FIA’s Rallying Director Yves Matton told Autosport: “Safety is the key for the sustainability of rallying in the future and one of the keys in safety is education – we see this around the world. These guidelines will help educate all to have the best procedures and the best habits in rallying.”
“The target we have to fix is zero [deaths and injuries], but we know how difficult that is. It is this question of education and knowledge to let the people understand how dangerous it can be if you are not doing the right things and this takes time – education always takes time.”
Robertson added: “Where we see a lot more issues with spectators is at a national or regional level. We need to get the message across and one way to do this is by using the WRC as our shop window to demonstrate best practice and educate people in these vital messages of how to organise events as safely as possible for spectators.”
“We’re not about adding costs to club-level events; lots of the initiatives: a prolonged blast on a whistle 30 minutes before the first car’s due to warn everybody the stage is live and the road closed; or marshals communicating with the safety cars via a thumbs up or arms crossed above their head if they need assistance. These are areas of real relevance to national rallying and add no cost. We want organisations at national level to feed into this document for the future.”
As well as the published guidelines, Robertson also admitted that the FIA are working with various pieces of new technology in a bid to locate rogue spectators. He warned: “We have initiated a project that will help us detect the locations of spectators through image recognition, anonymously, using onboard cameras and various other tools.
“We’re employing new, high-level technology to identify where these people are located. We know they’re waiting until the safety crews have passed through before moving into [dangerous] positions. We’re working on a system which will send an alert to the clerk of the course in rally control, making him aware of an issue in a particular corner. Action will then be taken.”
“The message is simple, you can’t be that renegade spectator anymore. We’ll know where you are and we’ll be coming to get you.”