The FINANCIAL -- Low awareness of citizens, infrastructural problems and liberal laws are the biggest reasons behind the violation of road rules in Georgia by both pedestrians and drivers. The number of traffic fatalities doubled in Georgia during the first six months of 2015 in comparison with the same period of the previous year. The death toll from road traffic accidents now exceeds 6 per every 100,000 people in Georgia. The equivalent figure for the six months is 3 in EU countries. Georgian officials have now promised to actively become involved in addressing the issue of traffic accidents.
The Georgian Alliance for Safe Roads in line with the EU project ‘Advocating Safety of Pedestrians’ are running a research project to study the habits of drivers and pedestrians. According to the survey, more than half (or 52-53%) of pedestrians in Tbilisi cross streets in violation of road rules. Meanwhile, the majority of drivers (or 76%) do not give way to pedestrians at zebra crossings.
306 pedestrians and 200 drivers were interviewed for the survey.
“Road accidents have doubled in Georgia during the first six months of the current year, in comparison with the same period of the prior year. Our study has discovered what the three main reasons for citizens breaking road rules are. Infrastructural problems, liberal laws and their enforcement, as well as low awareness of drivers and pedestrians - are the main factors contributing to road safety problems,” said Eka Laliashvili, Chair of the Board of the Georgian Alliance for Safe Roads.
The survey revealed that drivers in Tbilisi not only violate the rules about zebra crossings, but also violate other rules. More than half (58%) of drivers confessed that they rarely violate driving rules. Meanwhile, 60% admit to exceeding the speed limit on occasion.
“The number of fines for speeding is much lower than the incidence rate of actual violations. Only 28% of respondents have been fined for speeding, contrary to the 60% that have violated the law. It is worth mentioning that 27% of drivers are not aware of how much the fine is for speeding. 10% think that the fine is lower than it actually is. Accordingly, it is highly recommended to work on increasing the awareness of drivers on this subject. They should also be better informed on the rates of fines. More intensively fining drivers for speeding is also important in order to increase first-time experiences of being fined across the board,” said Laliashvili.
The death toll caused by road accidents is 6 out of every 100,000 citizens in Georgia. The number is 3 in EU countries. According to data of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, Tbilisi and Mtskheta-Mtianeti are dominating by number of accidents.
The number of deaths in traffic accidents per 100,000 citizens in Georgia amounted to 8,89 in 2008; 7,86 in 2009; 6,89 in 2010; 4,65 in 2011; 4,58 in 2012; 5,22 in 2013; 4,02 in 2014; and 7.61 during the first six months of 2015.
“The death toll in the EU per every 100,000 citizens is 3. In Georgia this number exceeds 6. It is an alarming rate for a country as small as Georgia,” said Laliashvili.
In future we plan to conduct an educational campaign and strengthen cooperation with governmental structures,” she added.
Representatives of Tbilisi City Hall, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the UNDP as well as various embassies attended the conference.
In response to recently-increased traffic problems, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia plans to increase fines. According to Archil Talakvadze, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, the Ministry has started working on road safety, which includes multiple processes, including an increase of fines.
“We are working on a new programme regarding road safety under the Minister’s directive. It will be implemented in the nearest future. It will be a one year comprehensive programme, which includes the involvement of the Government. The programme includes an upgrade of the auto park, as well as securing the safety of pedestrians via legislation. We will also restrict fines in some directions; for example when drivers do dangerous manoeuvres and violate traffic rules. Administration will be restricted and improved,” said Talakvadze.
“There are over 500,000 cars on Tbilisi’s roads daily. This increases the risk regarding citizens’ safety,” said Irakli Lekvinadze, Deputy Tbilisi Mayor. In his words, Tbilisi City Hall will soon become actively involved in enhancing the awareness of pedestrians as well as drivers. Lekvinadze promised to properly arrange infrastructural projects in Tbilisi, in order to safely carry out any road diversions in the city.
“City Hall plans to actively cooperate with the non-governmental sector, as they play a very large role in enhancing the awareness of drivers and pedestrians. The number of vehicles in Tbilisi has significantly increased. There are over 385,000 registered cars. Over 500,000 are on the move daily. This naturally increases people’s risks related to security. Arranging road safety educational projects will be an issue in which we will actively cooperate with the non-governmental sector,” said Lekvinadze.
“The new project about road safety will be actively implemented from next year onwards,” said Goga Razmadze, Director of the Patrol Office at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Due to the frequency of road accidents the Government is considering establishing a new state authority.