Azerbaijan embarks on Incident Data Mapping to Improve Pedestrian Safety

Azerbaijan, Children's Road Safety, News

Over the past few years, Azerbaijan has experienced a boom in vehicle ownership, resulting not only in increased congestion but also in increased numbers of road traffic casualties in the country’s capital, Baku. Between 2013-2017 road traffic crashes accounted for 4,691 premature deaths in Azerbaijan, a high proportion of which were pedestrians and almost 400 of which were children.

In 2017, EASST partner the National Automobile Club of Azerbaijan (AMAK), initiated the country’s first-ever research project on pedestrian safety in an effort to address the issue and provide an evidence base for future policy reforms.

The project surveyed over 1,200 people in Baku and was followed by an observational study in order to investigate pedestrians’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviour with regards to road safety and to identify the key risk factors.

In 2019, a grant from FedEx Express Europe provided the necessary resource for AMAK to embark on a critical second phase – a data mapping and analysis project.

“Reliable and detailed crash data is vital to building political will. It provides the basis for effective, targeted interventions and recommendations to further improve pedestrian safety. While most countries have a mechanism for recording and reporting information on road traffic incidents, the value of the data often remains untapped because authorities lack the time and resources to conduct meaningful analysis. Until now, this has been the case for Azerbaijan,” said Vafa Huseynli, Senior Manager for Fundraising and Social Programs at AMAK.

The funding from FedEx Express Europe, has enabled AMAK and EASST to deliver awareness sessions for state road police officers in Baku on the value of collecting and sharing accurate road incident data. The sessions have paved the way for an ongoing collaboration between AMAK and the Traffic Police. Using data from 2019, road traffic incident information was used to identify high-risk areas for pedestrians where targeted interventions could improve the safety of infrastructure and reduce road risk.

The resulting interactive map revealed that in 2019 there were 337 incidents involving pedestrians in Baku leading to 120 fatalities and 236 injuries. Police data suggested that in over a third of incidents (116) and over half of fatalities (67) there had been a violation of the speed limit.

“Data demonstrates the real scale of the road traffic injury problem and makes it possible to measure the effectiveness of any interventions that are made. Road Safety is a priority at FedEx Express, with our ‘Safety above All’ culture, and we can speak to the value of an accurate incident management system for keeping our drivers safe. As cities around the world look to tackle increasing congestion and make their transport systems more sustainable, projects like this show why it’s so important that safety is not overlooked,” said Rock Sherman, VP Road Network Europe, FedEx Express.

As an output of the project, five key roads were identified where pronounced clusters of incidents intersect with high-pedestrian areas, schools, and residential streets. Remote analysis by an expert road engineer, helped AMAK and the Traffic Police to investigate a further 10 high-risk locations. A set of specific recommendations to improve safety will be presented to local decision makers as part of a wider advocacy campaign in 2021.