Efforts to teach people how to behave on the roads need new impetus

20 February 2014

The most common causes of accidents are everyday occurrences: speeding, driving into oncoming traffic, ignoring red traffic lights, and breaking the rules for crossroads. It could be said that the driver training system is to blame. However, road user attitudes are always an underlying factor in these accidents. Drivers’ attitudes determine how they treat pedestrians, and visa versa. It is poor attitudes and a lack of respect for other road users that make people think they can ignore the rules of the road, putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk.  

The General Department of Road Traffic Safety of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs has published road accident statistics for 2013: there were 204,068 accidents in total, killing 27,025 people and injuring 258,437. There was a slight increase in the number of accidents compared to 2012 (+0.2%), while the number of people killed and injured fell by 3.5% and 0.1%, respectively. Looking at the figures for the last ten years (from 2004 to the end of 2013), the number of accidents has fallen by 2.3%, the number of people injured has increased by 2.7%, and the number of deaths has fallen by 21.8%.

Pedestrians accounted for almost one third of all road accident deaths: 7,798. Although this is 5% less than in the previous year, the statistics show that in Russia pedestrians continue to be the group of road users most at risk.

In 2012, the General Department of Road Traffic Safety and the Russian Association of Motor Insurers with the informational suuport of Road Safety Russia ran a campaign entitled “The Walk of Life” to promote the use of pedestrian crossings. The results are best demonstrated by the statistics. There has been a reduction in accidents involving pedestrians in places other than pedestrian crossings, and in 2013 the number of people killed in such accidents fell by 6.5%. However, the attitudes and behaviour of Russian pedestrians still need to improve; by no means everyone complies with traffic regulations when crossing the road.  

Drivers continue to be the main culprits in road traffic accidents: drivers caused almost 180,000 accidents in 2013, killing more than 23,000 people and injuring more than 236,000. In percentage terms, they accounted for almost 90% of the total number of accidents. More than a quarter of accidents were caused by speeding, while driving into oncoming traffic and failing to observe the rules at crossroads accounted for another quarter.

A concerted effort to improve road users’ attitudes and behaviour and to develop their legal awareness began in 2000. This has evolved into an extensive system of measures encompassing all of Russia’s regions.

The General Department of Road Traffic Safety has said that it will maintain its focus on improving road user attitudes and behaviour, which it announced as a priority at the beginning of the decade. Its work to teach and instil appropriate behaviour will be given a new impetus, targeting all categories of road user: pedestrians, drivers and passengers. It is important to demonstrate and prove that the road situation in the country really is changing, that there is systemic and fundamental change.

The new nationwide public awareness campaign “Brake in advance!” will be one aspect to this work. This project is being implemented by the General Department of Road Traffic Safety and the Russian Association of Motor Insurers, with information support from NGO Road Safety Russia. The campaign aims to reduce the number of pedestrians killed in road traffic accidents and also to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers failing to maintain a safe driving distance, observe the rules for pedestrian crossings, and match their speed to the conditions. It will be important in the first instance to improve driver attitudes and behaviour, as drivers are responsible for the absolute majority of accidents on Russia’s roads. Moreover, teaching mutual understanding and respect between drivers and pedestrians is one of the main road safety tasks today. 





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