Experts to adopt a resolution on bicycle and motorcycle safety

09 June 2014

The global problem of bicycle and motorcycle safety was the subject of discussion at a round table held recently with the support of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, together with the General Department of Road Traffic Safety of the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry and the NGO Road Safety Russia.

Among those in attendance were: deputy head of the General Department of Road Traffic Safety, Police Major General Vladimir Kuzin, senior researcher in emergency medicine, Sergei Suvorov, president of Road Safety Russia, Natalia Agre, and representatives from government departments, motorcycle clubs, the business community, and NGOs. 

Opening the round table, Natalia Agre outlined the current problem of bicycle and motorcycle safety. Motorcyclists are classed as vulnerable road users. According to WHO statistics, motorcyclists account for 23% of all road accident deaths worldwide. In Russia, 1146 motorcyclists were killed and 9506 injured in 2013 alone.

In the last ten years significant progress has been made in improving motorcycle safety, and the number of road deaths caused by motorcyclists has fallen by 47% (between 2004 and the end of 2013). Despite this, motorcycle safety remains a serious problem. Among motorcyclist fatalities, the proportion of motorcyclists who were either not wearing a helmet or not wearing a helmet correctly has increased: from 17.7% in 2007 to 39.4% in 2013. Therefore, the number of motorcyclists killed and injured could be significantly reduced were they made to use helmets correctly. The quality of training for category A and M drivers is also an issue. In 2013, 38% of the motorcyclists killed did not hold a motorcycle licence. The lack of training programmes is having a negative impact on both the younger generation and adults. Many experts have said that the training programmes for riders of two-wheeled motor vehicles need to be improved. 

Senior researcher in emergency medicine, Sergei Suvorov, spoke in detail about the consequences of road accidents involving two-wheeled vehicles. He pointed out that good quality protective helmets are extremely important for motorcyclists, as the most serious injuries are head injuries. He said that the current disregard for helmets is essentially just a habit.

The speakers also addressed the problem of cyclist safety. In 2013 there were 4688 incidents of cyclists being hit by a vehicle, in which 444 people were killed and 4423 injured. Furthermore, in 2013, there were 1611 accidents involving child cyclists, in which 46 people were killed and 1572 injured. Most commonly, these accidents are caused by cyclists either not knowing, or not complying with, road traffic regulations.

The participants agreed that the main causes of accidents involving motorcyclists are the low quality of training for them and the disregard for protective equipment: helmets and elbow and knee pads.

In his closing remarks, Vladimir Kuzin noted that registered motorcycles account for 5.9% of all vehicles in Russia, and almost the same percentage of all road traffic accidents: 4.7%. Motorcycle use in Russia is primarily seasonal, yet the statistics on the distribution of registered motorcycles in Russia show that in first place is Bashkortostan. Saratov region is in second place and Krasnodar Krai in third.

Talking about the initiatives of the General Department of Road Traffic Safety to improve the quality of training for bicycle and motorcycle riders, Mr Kuzin said that these plans could not be implemented because the required laws had not been enacted. Driving schools do not have training programmes for category M (mopeds and scooters) or category А1 (motorbikes up to 125cc) because the secondary legislation required for their introduction has not been enacted. Until this legislation is in force, driving schools cannot train motorcyclists under the new programmes, and the General Department of Road Traffic Safety will not be able to accept examinations for this category.

All the proposals put forward at the round table will be submitted to the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. An official decision of the round table will then be drawn up and distributed to the relevant ministries, departments and NGOs for the purpose of setting up a working group on two-wheeled vehicle safety in Russia. 



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