Natalia Agre
President of the NGO “Road Safety Russia”

Start with yourself

28 November 2011

The Non-Government organization «Risk-Free Driving» has numerous ambitious plans dealing with changing the culture on the Russian automobile roads. Among these plans there are social campaigns to improve the culture safe behavior, to streamline legislation, to joint efforts of the State, NGO and commercial organizations to improve situation on the roads to the better. However all these plans have no meaning if there is no personal input from each participant. It is necessary to start with yourself. The main requirement is to improve the behavioral standard on the road.

We all know too well what is the situation at the Russian automobile roads. Despite low number of cars per capita the risk of fatalities and injuries is extremely high. The attitude towards other traffic participants is far from being friendly. There is a feeling that the metal and glass that shield a driver from the outside world make a shell that devoid the owner of decent human features such as respectability, patience and tolerance to the people around. Seemingly the road for those who carry this shell is nothing but a battlefield where the fittest survives.

In fact the road is good to reflect what happens in our everyday life. Driving culture reflects as a mirror the culture of society as a whole. We stopped letting women go first and offer seats to senior people or say hello to neighbors living in the same block of flats.

We are quick to find scapegoats or those whom to blame for our misconduct. It is very simple to blame the world that surrounds us. The traffic lanes got blurred, the pit holes were not leveled, the road was not duly debottlenecked, there are way too many commuting minivans. We find the scapegoats – they are road construction workers, traffic policemen, mayors and presidents. Never us – the people who drive the road shoulder, switch four lanes to make a turn, cut, take over making pedestrians scatter.

There are many justifications why we behave like that. Russia is a big country, the roads are distant and there are many traffic jams in the urban areas. We spend numerous hours behind the steering wheel. The road became a part of our life. True, the road can become a battlefield. But it is more interesting to make a consistent effort to ensure that this part of our life goes on in a civilized way, is comfortable and risk free.

It is no brainer. Civilized behavior implies safe environment. If you wish to change the society around you start with yourself. In fact this is the main principle behind the concept of «Risk free driving». If each of us gives a thought and decides to stop to let a pedestrian cross the street, to estimate the risk of coming onto an oncoming lane, to evaluate benefits of slow driving, of staying away from risky maneuvers (cutting, taking over and stepping on it in front of pedestrian crossing)  then the road situation will become more comfortable and most important much safer.



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