A triumphant breakthrough for vehicle safety in Armenia

Armenia, News, Road Safety Governance and Capacity Building

Since November, the National Road Safety Council has been advocating for proper enforcement on the import of right-hand drive vehicles into Armenia.

Right-hand drive cars are commonly used in Armenia as they are often cheaper to buy. However, these cars are incompatible with a road infrastructure that is designed for left-hand drive and, according to the Insurance Bureau of Armenia, they are 68% more likely to be involved in a crash than their left-hand drive counterparts.

Using a targeted advocacy campaign, our EASST partners have been highlighting the safety issues associated with these vehicles as well as emphasising the impact on the rule of law given that the import of right-hand drive vehicles has been prohibited in Armenia per governmental decree since April 2018. Yet, despite this ban, importers have continued to bring the vehicles into the country claiming that they were unaware of the new law or it’s status following last year’s revolution in the country.

The NRSC’s Poghos Shahinyan has raised this issue with the Armenian government and given numerous online interviews to challenge the assumption that ignorance of the law is a legitimate excuse for compromising safety. Drivers might need time to change their wheel, but importing right-hand drive vehicles is a breach of the law.

“Ignorance of the law does not let drivers escape from responsibility. If the Government steps back, we will have a bad incident. We should give them time to change their wheel”. Poghos Shahinyan, Executive Director, National Road Safety Council NGO

As a result of the campaign in February 2019, the Prime Minister re-established the government’s commitment to the ban on importing right-hand drive vehicles through passing a second decree on the issue, which was also backed up by the passing of a Parliamentary bill iterating that appropriate enforcement will be applied from now on.