Ihor Didenko: Road safety must be part of the culture

In Ukraine, 10 times more people die in road accidents than because of the war in the East. In general, according to MP Ihor Didenko from the Samopomich parliamentary faction, the death rate on Ukrainian roads is among the five highest death rates in the world. In his opinion, this situation can be changed (after all, in Europe there are cities with zero death rate on the roads), but the path is difficult.

  1. State strategy

Ukraine has had a negative experience in the implementation of a road safety strategy: there have been many talks and nothing has been done. Now there is a system which is divided into three parts:

– To find funds. It is important that the road fund has 5% provided for road safety. Now this exists.

– How to control the funds? Through the action plan and the state program, when for each measure undertaken there are specific funds.

– Coordination. It is vital that this will be the Ministry of Infrastructure. This is a European practice. The police monitor the implementation of laws on the roads.

Thus, we have a model in which the state has the means and knows what to do, and this model is beginning to work. Its key task is to reduce the death rate on the roads of Ukraine by 50% in three years.

In addition, international institutions recommend the creation of a road safety agency in the county, because it is necessary to analyze and manage safety on a daily basis.

“Presently, we do not even have quality collection of information about accidents in Ukraine. We should have more data than about the car, the driver and the severity of the accident. For example, what was the weather like, what kind of lighting was there and so on. In the world, 100 items of information are collected for each accident, then experts analyze them and give their recommendations on how to reduce the number of road accidents. We now want to introduce 80 items,” says Ihor Didenko.

  1. Society involvement

There must be a road safety culture in the society. Children should learn about this culture, they need to talk about it – Samopomich representatives are convinced of this.

“A big new system of education in road safety schools is being prepared. This will be a completely new understanding of security,” says Didenko.

“We have started holding so-called security weeks. Given the global experience, we hold them twice a year. We are also trying to cooperate with the “Youth for Safety on the Roads” initiative – when children show adults the things that need to be done. For example, children wrote on posters, “Adults, pay attention – the kindergarten and the playground have no sign”.

“Another government’s initiative is to distribute Hi-Vis among school children so that children on the roads could be seen by the drivers. Actually, this initiative appeared as a result of the children’s road safety weeks. Fashion designers together with the children created fashionable retro-reflective elements on clothes. This is another proof that when the society is involved on, when we begin to talk, to cover various issues, this bears fruit, makes the officials react.”

  1. Responsibility of local authorities

“Road safety should become a fashion trend. This should be done with the help of ministers, mayors and officials in the first place. Very often, city and regional leaders are convinced that this is not their problem, but rather the state’s, the central government’s one.

“In my opinion – and I am working on implementing this – the first thing to do is to introduce the personal responsibility of the mayors and heads of regional administrations for the death rate on the roads,” says the lawmaker.

They need to be aware of the situation and report on it to the society – how many people died on the roads and why.

Nowadays, Lviv is the most active city in introducing road safety. Kyiv is trying to catch up, but in the capital, there is no understanding of how to do this. Here, it took four years to finally establish the Road Safety Agency.

Meanwhile, Kharkiv and Odesa are just waiting for suggestions.

By the way, in Europe, there are already 500 cities with zero death rate on the roads. And this is a great example for Ukraine – to try to create cities with zero death rate on the roads.”

  1. Infrastructure solutions

Ihor Didenko notes that it is the infrastructure that should take care to minimize the driver’s error.

European and world practice shows that a person has the right to a mistake, but this mistake should be the least fatal. To make it so, we need to take appropriate measures: limit the speed, ensure better lighting on the roads, generally provide any lighting, eliminate the spots of high accident concentration where people die the most.

“We have some very bad consequences of the Soviet road construction, when a village might be cut in half by a road, and people cross the road in the dark. We have high speed on the roads, which must be stopped by traffic cameras. We have eliminated the traffic police because we believed that they took bribes there, but at the same time we have also eliminated the control function.

It is also necessary to adopt a law on additional illumination of pedestrians walking in the dark. There is such a law in Europe, Belarus, but not in Ukraine. A pedestrian is also responsible for driving safety, the driver cannot see everything.

But the most important thing is to start with ourselves. Because if there is a request for traffic safety in the society, then the state responds accordingly,” sums up Ihor Didenko.

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