Renault and road safety are synonymous around the globe. In line with this ethos, Renault South Africa is proud to announce the formalisation of its partnership with Wheel Well. Founded in December 2012 by long-time road safety activist Peggie Mars, Wheel Well is a registered non-profit organisation, its exclusive focus, children in road safety.
“Wheel Well has been earmarked as a key focus in terms of Renault SA’s corporate social responsibility programme in 2015 and beyond and we are pleased to be cementing a longstanding yet informal association with such a worthy organisation,” says Brian Smith, vice president of marketing and communications at Renault SA.
With road accidents the number one cause of unnatural deaths amongst South African children, in 2012, Mars spearheaded a campaign to collect used car seats for kids. Reliant on donations from the public, singlehandedly, she then refurbished these seats from top to bottom in her home garage and distributed them to families unable to afford the purchase of new seats.
“Funding was a challenge and when Renault came on board with a financial contribution, this generosity gave me a much-needed springboard to get the groundwork in place,” recalls Mars. “In addition, Renault offered the services of its dealer network to act as drop off points for members of the public wishing to donate seats they no longer required.
“It worked incredibly well back at the start and continues to do so today.”
By June 2013, Mars was in a position to relocate her operation to premises at Brightwater Commons in Randburg, Gauteng and also to employ two assistants. “From refurbishing and distributing 20 or so seats each month, things mushroomed. Thanks to a stream of donations largely channelled via Renault’s dealer network, I am proud to say that from inception through to the end of January 2015, Wheel Well distributed a total of 4 213 child safety seats.
“While we now have the capacity to clean, refurbish, repair and distribute 200 seats each month, in order to reach this goal, Wheel Well remains dependent on car seat donations – in particular, booster seats.” Should anyone be able to assist Peggie Mars, they are urged to drop off any unwanted equipment at their closest Renault dealership. Alternatively, she can be reached on 072 388 7121 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mars regards 2014 as a milestone year for her organisation. “Renault’s support was hugely significant and in July, we took delivery of a sponsored Renault Trafic which enabled us to expand our efforts and take them to a new level.
“On the very day that I received the vehicle, I drove to Cape Town to attend the GRSP Africa Seminar and thanks to the Trafic’s impressive load capacity, was able to collect seats from Wheel Well supporters along the way. With its highly visible branding, the Trafic attracted a considerable amount of attention with Renault’s global status as a proponent of road safety serving to provide added credibility to our efforts.
“On a daily basis, the Trafic enables me to collect and deliver more seats than I was able to do previously,” she adds. “Another significant aspect of our partnership is the availability of Renault dealerships as drop off points and it never fails to impress that Renault has made their dealerships available for this vital service.”
During the course of 2015, Mars will be building on Wheel Well’s solid foundation and expanding the organisation’s area of influence beyond Gauteng. “There are so many families still to be reached – either as deserving recipients of car seats or as donors of used seats.
“We intend to raise awareness of children in relation to road safety at the same time raising the profile of Wheel Well in the public eye,” she adds. In terms of Amendment 22 of the Road Traffic Act (scheduled to come into force on 30th April 2015), the use of car seats for children up to three years of age will become compulsory. “So, we will certainly have our work cut out for us helping families to be both safe and legal!”
An opportunity to create the level of awareness being sought is the United Nations (UN) Global Road Safety Week 2015 (4 – 10 May). “With its theme of Children and Road Safety, it’s an ideal platform for us,” concludes Mars.
Renault is renowned as a world leader in vehicle safety and committed to road safety initiatives across-the-board according to Renault SA’s Brian Smith.
“The donation of a child’s car seat to Wheel Well, irrespective of its age or condition, could save a young life and we urge the public to donate and deliver seats no longer in use to any one of our dealerships countrywide.”