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Italy transport ministry under fire for road safety campaign with no seat belts

Transport minister Salvini faces backlash over road safety campaign.

Italy's transport ministry has come in for heavy criticism over a road safety advertising campaign in which the occupants of the cars are not wearing seat belts.

The three adverts draw attention to incorrect behaviour while driving, with scenarios including the driver getting distracted by a mobile phone, drug use at the wheel, and driving at high speed.

Under the title “Make the only choice possible. Because it's your life and that of others", the split-screen safety awareness campaign shows the right and wrong choice, with the latter leading to a road accident.

After the adverts were launched by the transport ministry on Tuesday, social media users soon spotted the lack of seatbelts and the campaign quickly became a political issue.

Much of the criticism was directed at transport minister Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy premier and leader of the right-wing Lega party.

Carlo Calenda, leader of the centrist opposition party Azione who recently accused the Lega of allegedly still having "strong links" to the party of Russian president Vladimir Putin, wrote on X: "It must be said, however, that a Minister who launches an advert on road safety and does not notice that seat belts are missing should be kicked out by the citizens."

The road safety awareness campaign also sparked criticism from the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) and the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5s).

Italian media on Wednesday cited sources from the transport ministry who specified that the videos had not yet been broadcast on public television.

The director of the awareness campaign, Daniele Falleri, later said he regretted the controversy and pledged to modify the footage "so that viewers are not distracted from the only aim that we really care about: raising everyone's awareness to contribute, each in their own small way, to saving human lives".

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