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Georgia should continue implementing comprehensive road safety actions, finds new UN report

Published: 04 July 2018

Despite significant efforts in recent years with the adaption of national action plans, the state of road safety in Georgia remains worrying, with the number of road accidents and fatalities more than twice as high as the EU average.  With a fatality rate of 15.6/100,000 inhabitants in 2016, or almost two fatal accidents per day, traffic accidents are firmly placed in the top five causes of death in Georgia. They are the leading cause of death of children and young adults from ages 5 to 29. Pedestrians are particularly at risk in the country, as they account for approximately 25% of deaths and injuries. Road traffic accidents also bring huge economic costs, with an average annual loss estimated at over 5.2% of GDP.

Given the rapid motorization (+8% per year in recent years) and growing economic activity in Georgia, there is a critical need to address the road safety situation in a holistic way. 

The findings contained in the Georgia Road Safety Performance Review released today offer a comprehensive assessment of the situation in the country as well as a set of recommendations on key priority areas. These will help the country develop a comprehensive national road safety strategy, which could save hundreds of lives.

The Review found that in Georgia, road infrastructure has traditionally maximized economic efficiency at the expense of safety. That paradigm has to shift to safely optimize the movement of people and goods.  This includes making sure that the infrastructure effectively provides for the safety of vulnerable road users. Georgia has to adopt unified national road design standards and road infrastructure safety management tools. The Review has identified several key areas that can make a positive impact to ensure safer roads: separation of different types of road users, elimination of interaction between high-speed traffic and vulnerable road users, auditing/inspecting existing road infrastructure regularly and promoting more sustainable modes of transport, including public transport, walking and cycling.

Speeding was also found to be a significant factor for Georgia, accounting for one out of every three deaths.  The Review focuses particularly on the speed limits set for urban roads where there is a high concentration of vulnerable road users.  The current general speed limit of 60 km/h is unsafe for urban areas and should be reduced to 50 km/h, in line with international best practice. Also, effective speed management would require that local authorities be given the legal authority to reduce limits, so they can manage local speeds according to the specificities of individual roads. The ability of the police to enforce speed limits also needs to increase with new capacities and technology.

In addition to speed, other key behavioural risk factors can be mitigated including drink driving and non-use of helmets, seat belts and child restraints by enacting effective legislation. Georgia should introduce comprehensive laws implementing the United Nations road safety-related legal instruments.

Georgia could also advance road safety management by further increasing coordination between key national stakeholders and strengthening human capacity at the national and local levels. 

This should be accompanied by the creation of a system for collecting robust road safety statistics, which will identify the most pressing areas and allow to measure progress. 

Finally, Georgia at one time did require periodic technical inspections of vehicles to ensure automobiles were in good working order, but some time ago it was cancelled. During the project, a new periodic technical inspections programme was launched taking advantage of modern testing techniques. 

The Review is available at: http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/roadsafe/unda/GE_RSPR_WEB_e.pdf

Note to editors

The Road Safety Performance Review of Georgia was prepared as the initial phase of the UNECE project “Strengthening the national road safety management capacities of selected developing countries and countries with economies in transition”.  The aim of the project is to assist Albania, Dominican Republic, Georgia and Viet Nam to address priority road safety issues by improving their national road safety management systems.

The discussion of Georgia Road Safety Performance Review was conducted at national and international capacity building workshops. The workshops were attended by the members of the National Road Safety Inter-Agency Commission, the National Road Safety Working Group, as well as representatives of international financial institutions, academia, NGOs and the private sector.

The project, implemented by UNECE with the cooperation of ESCAP and ECLAC, is part of the UN work on Sustainable Development Goal 3 which calls for halving the number of road deaths and injuries and 11 which calls for creating safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all.

The Road Safety Performance Reviews complement SafeFITS, a web-based modelling tool, with a primary objective to assist governments and decision makers to identify the most appropriate road safety policies and measures that lead to tangible results and improved road safety records. By imputing potential policy actions into SafeFITS, the model will anticipate expected outcomes and evaluate the effects in terms of number of lives saved. 

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