It is impossible to ignore any source of danger on the road

09 February 2022

Elena Borisenko, head of the analytical department of the RS Russia expert center, spoke about the successes that Russian road builders have already achieved in making our routes safe and comfortable, and what problems have not yet been resolved in this area.

World class security

Assessing the current situation with ensuring road safety on Russian roads, it should be borne in mind that we are a large country and each region has its own specifics in this matter and its differences from other subjects. Speaking about the country as a whole, it is impossible not to note the fact that recently we have done a lot to improve the level of road safety. Over the past 10 years, thanks to the coordinated actions of the traffic police, road workers and other structures on which the state of affairs with ensuring road safety depends, the number of road accident victims has more than halved. In many respects, this positive result was also achieved due to the increase in the technical equipment of our tracks with safety equipment. The condition of the road itself has improved. It is also very important that in recent years we have developed such significant structural programs as the BKD national project and the Road Safety Strategy. They provide us with a solid base to participate in the ongoing worldwide road safety project. This project includes five directions in which every country participating in it, including Russia, should act. First of all, it is the management of road safety, including through laws, regulations, data collection, analytics, the creation and development of organizations responsible for this area. All this is provided for in the Russian strategic programs for the development of road infrastructure. Also, the directions of this project require its participants to bring roads in their countries into a standard state. And this is the key goal of the BKD national project. The next direction is the creation of a fleet of safe cars, and here we are not demonstrating the best performance so far. We have a very large proportion of vehicles older than 10 years, and although we have introduced a new technical inspection system, I cannot yet say that it has had any tangible impact on the situation with the technical condition of cars on our roads. Let's hope that things will change for the better in the foreseeable future.

Another area is the education of safe vehicle users. This is the direct sphere of activity of our organization. The implementation of this direction includes the monitoring of drivers, pedestrians, their training, the prevention of accidents and the promotion of safe movement on the roads. In Russia, a large number of regional and federal events are held on this topic, with the task of informing and educating the population. All of them are also part of the profile programs of the BKD national project.

And, finally, the fifth direction is assistance to victims of road accidents. For its implementation in Russia, in particular, small aviation is being developed, ambulance cars are being retrofitted, as well as traffic police vehicles, where expanded sets of emergency assistance are laid for victims of accidents. Centers for providing emergency assistance are being formed at the junctions of regions. So we can say that we are working in all five areas. The most successful - for those that coincide with the implementation of the BKD national project, which included programs to improve road safety, and to train safe drivers (new driver training programs are currently being developed), and to develop a nationwide network for providing emergency assistance to victims of accidents.

Speed ​​Audit

Another important international area of ​​work to improve the level of road safety is the control of speed limits on the roads. In our country, however, the solution to the issue of reducing the non-punishable limit of exceeding the permissible speed limit is still opposed by both the public and many state bodies. In principle, I see some truth in the statements of public figures and government agencies that first you need to audit the roads and bring them into line with the speed limits that are defined for them. After all, indeed, there are cases when obviously lowered speed limits are introduced on certain sections of the road, and it is not clear how they were calculated. Therefore, it makes sense to conduct a survey of our roads and then make decisions on lowering the permissible limits for exceeding and on speed limits in general. But, nevertheless, there is now a worldwide campaign to reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h in urban centers. For example, in Paris, on busy streets, this rule has already been introduced at the legislative level. And, most likely, it will continue to spread, both in France and throughout the EU. 

Dangerous Babies

Speaking of risk factors, one cannot fail to mention such a new phenomenon as personal mobility aids (IM), that is, electric scooters and electric bicycles, which have literally flooded the streets of our cities very quickly lately. They have become a real new source of danger on the road, primarily for pedestrians, but also for the SIM users themselves. Unfortunately, we, like the whole world, missed the moment when it was necessary to develop regulatory standards for SIM, eliminating their potential danger. This should have been done at least five years ago, when these dangerous babies were just beginning to appear, and it should have started with rental organizations, which should have been made responsible for ensuring the safety of the operation of the SIMs they leased. Now we have a situation where anyone can take the same electric scooter for the minimum amount and go in any direction and, what is important, in any condition. At the same time, SIM today is no longer an analogue of ordinary scooters, only with an electric motor. This is a very heavy unit, sometimes weighing more than 100 kilograms, capable of accelerating to 100 km / h. That is, the kinetic energy of impact during a collision is very large. At the same time, its user today, by law, is not a driver, but a pedestrian, that is, he can calmly, without breaking the law, move along the sidewalks. A few years ago, we were preparing a draft amendment to the traffic rules regarding the regulation of the use of SIM. It is encouraging that at the recent conference on kicksharing (short-term rental of SIM - ed.), a representative of the Ministry of Transport said that amendments to the traffic rules for SIM are now going through the final stage of approval. So we expect changes in their legal status in the near future.

So far, the share of accidents with such vehicles in the total number of road accidents is relatively small. But, firstly, the number of SIMs is growing rapidly, which was also affected by the pandemic. Secondly, in any case, it is impossible to leave a potential source of threat on the road unattended, so the regulation of this area should be started as soon as possible. Ideally, SIM should be placed on separate paths, for example, a bicycle, because they can’t drive on the roadway right now - they are controlled by the one who formally remains a pedestrian. But this issue, of course, will require significant funding, the source of which is still unknown. In principle, given that IMS play a positive role in unloading urban highways, and also, based on the obligation to take measures to ensure the safety of residents, this should be done by municipalities. But the participation of companies - manufacturers, sellers and distributors of SIM should also be considered.

Rescue Technologies

Separately, I would like to touch on the topic of the current level of equipping Russian roads with technical safety equipment. In Russia, a lot of highways are equipped with cameras for photo-video recording and monitoring the traffic situation. So far, a significant part of the purchases of this equipment is carried out by state organizations, in particular, within the framework of the Safe City program, in order to scale it up and increase efficiency. Unfortunately, in this area we are still heavily dependent on foreign suppliers of components for such systems, since their production in Russia has not yet received strong development. For this reason, there are certain problems in the maintenance of such systems. But the number of cameras is growing rapidly. Financial flows to the budgets of the regions from fines issued for violations recorded by these devices are also growing. At the same time, the level of safety on the roads also increases, because they try to install cameras, first of all, on those sections of roads that have already proven themselves to be dangerous. Separately, I note this point: over the past year, the installation of photo-video recording systems is less and less entrusted to private companies precisely because they set their main goal not to prevent accidents and identify real violators, but to make a profit. Recently, photo-video recording systems have also received a mobile version. They are equipped with traffic police patrol cars. There are also mobile road laboratories that control the correct parameters of road signs, note damage to the roadway and the coefficient of adhesion of tires to the road surface, and monitor compliance with road lighting standards.

An important part of equipping roads with traffic safety equipment remains such structures as barrier and cable lane dividers. These designs help to prevent frontal collisions and generally reduce the severity of the consequences of an accident, especially on highways. Their installation is carried out based on the results of an analytical assessment and forecasting of the potential accident rate of road sections. Such work, for example, is actively carried out by the TsODD of Moscow, similar structures in other cities, as well as departments for the operation of the road sector, are engaged in the same activity.



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